Create a picture in your mind of a leader. Maybe it’s someone from your organisation. Or someone from a sports team. Or a historical figure. How do you know they are a leader? What about them differentiates them from ‘everyone else’?
Through We Are All Wonder Women and as leaders in our own organisations, we are regularly called upon to coach others in how to progress in their careers. And one thing that comes up time and time again is the way our clients and colleagues compare themselves to others in order to define themselves.
It’s like lining up before a big race. You’ve been training hard, getting ready for the big day. You’ve had your oatmeal and banana for breakfast and done your warm up. But then you line up on the start line, look across at the others runners and find yourself thinking that they look so much fitter, faster, and more confident than you. So much more ready. And your confidence drops through the floor.
It happens to me too. Recently I was preparing for a job interview and found myself matching myself up against the other candidates. I started to second guess myself and my abilities, because all I could see was how much better the other candidates seemed to be! Until all I could see were the gaps in my CV.
I called up a fellow Wonder Woman to help strengthen my application and mentioned that I felt I had no chance against the other candidates. She thought I was crazy! She reminded me of all the amazing things I have going for me, and the incredible breadth of experience I have that makes me a top candidate. This inspired me to switch my focus away from the other candidates and onto myself. I’ve had an amazing career journey and picked up so many skills along the way. If I compare myself to the person I was 5 or 10 years ago, then the progress is clear.
This is an important lesson for me and for all you other Wonder Women out there in this situation.
Everyone has strengths and everyone has weaknesses. Don’t compare your weaknesses to others' strengths. Yes, you can recognise your weaknesses and work on them. But when it comes to lining up for the big race, don’t look at the other runners, just focus on your own strengths. Run your own race. Measure yourself against the person you were 10 years ago, 5 years ago, even 24 hours ago! If you do something to move yourself forward on your own journey every day, then that’s #winning.
There’s no fixed recipe to make a leader. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, and have all different kinds of CVs. Leadership is a mindset, not a list of skills on a piece of paper.
You don’t need permission from someone else to act like a leader. You don’t need a special job title, or a certain salary. Even Wonder Woman herself has weaknesses, chinks in the armour. Does she care? No! She still kicks butt on a daily basis!
Focus on your own journey in leadership. And then, if you still really want to know what a leader looks like, all you need to do is look in the mirror.
We Are All Wonder Women is an international movement for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career.