On doing what needs doing; on leadership

On doing what needs doing; on leadership

[00:00:00] **Aurooba Ahmed:** Well, hello! This is The Daily 5 with Aurooba, that's me, where we reflect on creating our best lives a little bit every day. Here we go.

[00:00:15] We often tell each other, what's important is that you did your best. And that's true. It is important that you did your best. But sometimes that's not enough for it to be okay, if you didn't do what's needed. Maybe the bar shouldn't be to do your best, the bar should be to do what's needed, and then to do your best. It's amazing what you can achieve when you expect more from yourself. Not always, but more often than not.

[00:00:45] There are a lot of valid situations where permission must be granted, where access must be given. Systemic racism and discrimination come to mind as examples. But whether there are systemic issues or not, and of course there always are, no one grants you permission in the real world. You walk in and you seize it. Now, sometimes you might get smacked down, but other times it turns out it's there for the taking, just sitting there.

[00:01:13] Some of my favorite books as a kid were by Tamora Pierce. You know, strong, powerful female characters defying the odds in a world of knights, magic, and multiple worlds. I can't decide if I was attracted to those characters because that's who I was. Or at least I thought I was. Or if I became who I am, kind of, because I was attracted to those kinds of characters and read about them. Or maybe it was a combination of both. I suspect it was the latter. Because it generally is.

[00:01:43] But there's a takeaway in nearly each of the books about leadership. Driven home in a variety of ways in every book. Leadership is about being put in charge by the folks who listen to you, being put in charge by the folks above you and by your own ability to take the lead when the situation calls for it, whether someone else handed you the reins or not.

[00:02:02] Leadership, the role, not the title, is about doing what needs doing and everything else that it entails without being prompted. If it required prompting, it wouldn't be leading, would it?

[00:02:16] There are a lot of different ways to lead, and I loved those books because they demonstrated the many different ways you could lead, especially if you were female, in a world that has little respect for female leadership and sometimes an inability to accept leadership from someone who appears feminine.

[00:02:32] Not all leaders want to lead. Not everyone who finds themself in charge wants to be in charge. There are about a million reasons why you might find yourself in a situation like that. But it's also true that if you have any kind of leadership skills, any spark, the world finds a way to make use of it. That's been my experience of it anyway. And you can jerk away from that, botch it, or you can straighten yourself up and figure out a way to do it justice. I've done all of that and more.

[00:03:00] Leadership isn't always about leading from the front. You don't even have to be in charge in order to be a leader. Leadership has literally nothing to do with titles or the position you find yourself in. I'm the oldest child in my family. That doesn't by itself make me a leader. Leadership isn't management. A project manager isn't necessarily the leader of a project. Leadership has very little to do with any particular personality traits. There's no one trait that all leaders share, I don't think.

[00:03:29] So, what is leadership? Well, you cannot lead if you do not know where you're going. You cannot lead if you do not have people who come with you or listen to you. You cannot lead if you can't rally people around your goal. So leadership is the influence to rally people to achieve a goal with you. A goal that may be needed or a goal that is nice to have. That is a small sentence with a lot to unpack. And it's really just a working definition I'm pondering these days.

[00:04:04] But for those people with a spark of leadership, but not necessarily the desire to lead, leadership often gets pulled out of them when there's something that needs doing and no one who's doing it, either at all or correctly. Sometimes you learn to accept that you have leadership capacity. Sometimes you even learn to want it. Sometimes you go back and forth. Sometimes you'd rather just be someone else's number two. Or sometimes you just throw your hands up and let things happen as they do. So maybe there's something about responsibility in there somewhere too.

[00:04:38] It's unclear to me right now how that exactly fits in. But it does fit in somewhere, somehow.

[00:04:50] Thanks for listening. Same time tomorrow?