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The spiral growth systems blog

Stepping into Leadership When You’re Not in Charge

I used to assume that leadership referred to those who had the role of “leader” – those who had a responsibility toward a group of people they were leading. But over the years I’ve learned that we are all leaders; that each and every one of us, when we are living authentically, speaking our truth, and setting an example of living in our highest versions of ourselves, is a leader. By setting such an example, each of us gives those we come across an invitation to step into that version of themselves. For example, have you ever had anyone tell you they love how joyful you are, because it gives them an opening to feel the same way; or how authentic and open you are, because it makes them feel like they can be themselves, too? Well, that’s leadership — setting an example for others simply by walking the best path we know how.

So what do we do when we’re in a position where there actually is someone else “in charge” – be it a CEO, manager or “boss” at work, or (eek, God forbid) a police officer or judge determining if your traffic ticket is worth keeping or throwing away. In any position where we’re not the ones who get the final say, or make the ultimate decisions, we can still have a say by learning to be a leader in any situation. All it really takes is learning to be a good leader, and applying to same strategies and ways of being that would work if you were in the official leadership role. It does not look like showing up as the one “in charge”, as in every situation there is a need for an alpha/ provider role and a supporter/ enhancer role. If you know that the person you are interacting with has a need to be viewed in leadership (ie.the alpha/provider role), you can still take on the latter role and embody a leader. The supporter/enhancer does not have to give up their own sense of wisdom, understanding, or brilliant ideas. Instead, this role involves using that sense of wisdom and understanding to help the other person flourish in their final decisions.

Leadership is more powerful when those being led feel fully empowered, and reversing the way we see those roles is much easier than it seems – and much more important than it seems in the unfortunate case that we feel unsafe with those who have power over us. In fact, reversing the role can help us to empower those in power to help us feel safe. A good leader holds space for people to come to their own conclusions. He/she asks the right questions to lead others to a sense of understanding in which they are empowered with their own wisdom. A good leader acknowledges the other person, allowing them to feel fully seen. They are an invitation to the other(s) to live into their fullest sense of selves. But, because we understand that leadership can work in both directions, it’s not set in stone who has to invite who to the party. Give this a try when you find yourself in a position of wanting someone in power to see you more fully, or to lead in a more empowered/heart centered fashion, and let me know how it goes for you!

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