Leadership in business is a hot topic these days. If you tune into Forbes, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, if you go to virtual conferences or corporate trainings, if you listen to TED talks or tap into the vast array of leadership coaches, everywhere you turn there’s discussion about leadership.
The trouble is that all this conversation can create a false division in our minds between the leaders and the followers. Either we’re in a leadership role in a company or we’re not. We’re C suite or minions. I know some people who don’t even click on leadership articles because they think, I’m not a leader. I’m not the founder of a start-up. I’m not a CEO. Some of my clients were hesitant to work with me, for fear of not being leaders in their own eyes.
That’s why the idea of authentic leadership is so important and forms the core philosophy of my work as a coach. Authentic leadership isn’t about being a CEO, the leader of a team, or the founder of a company. To me, authentic leadership is about self leadership and how you show up in the world, no matter what stage you’re at in life. It’s about how you choose to lead situations and the people around you.
Think about standing in line at a coffee shop and overhearing someone berating the barista. If their behavior is abhorrent to your values, you have a decision to make. How are you going to lead? Are you going to be extra nice to the barista, to remind them of their humanity and your gratitude for their service? Or are you going to say something to the customer, to stand up for civility and kindness?
Situations arise like this all the time in business settings, the general public, and the privacy of our homes. The simple truth is that the world is in desperate need of leaders, in every facet and capacity, from entry-level assistants to executives with their photos on the wall, from mothers to fathers to coffee shop baristas. No matter who you are, leadership starts with you.
Amelia Kruse is a Certified Leadership Coach based in New York working with professionals and entrepreneurs globally.