Real Leaders: leading by Self Confidence

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What is leadership? This is an intriguing question with a possibility of having hundreds different answers. As part of my work at ENGAGE, I am trying to understand the complex world of personal or life coaching where, at least apparently, issues related to the domain of leadership can have a big role.

A personal coach is someone able to ask you some powerful questions about you, about where you are now and what you want to achieve and how you want to get there. In a sense, a coach is a facilitator and you are the one actually working hard to get where you really want to go.

Any goals, small or ambitious requires a strategy, a well thought analysis of the different ways and options available. You need to think hard, make your right choices and try your luck and see where you go.

Surely you need to be prepared or have some experience: if you want to move from let’s say A to B and B entails a tangible goal, you need to be equipped with the skills and capacities. Many of these are learned on the “road”, often by failing. Learning by doing makes you experienced.

When you succeed in getting where you want, well you deserve yourself a standing ovation. Regardless of how big or how small is the goal you just achieved, you start turning yourself into a Real Leader.

This means that when we achieve something, we should consider ourselves as leaders, leaders of ourselves.

Unfortunately, normally when we talk about leadership, we tend to think about what others think of you. Leadership, in this sense, is intended as a projection of others’ perceptions of you.

Are you a Real Leader because you really are equipped with the right skills, knowledge, wisdom and the willpower to learn by doing in order to reach the set goals or are you a leader simply because others, for different reasons, think of you as such?

Obviously if you really posses all the right tools and succeed in achieving what you set as goals, you end up being noticed and eventually praised and admired by others. I think this is the long way to be duly recognized as a Real Leader.

You first need to work silently on your goal or mission and then you can become a leader without much of concerns of being noticed by others also because many equally successful goals can be personal and entails something more related to your personal happiness rather than the usual “external” metrics of achievement.

What you need is simply hard work, determination, resilience and sheer passion for what you want to achieve. You do not need any kind of visibility or publicity in order to become a “leader of yourself”.

By achieving your goals, you slowly gain confidence in yourself, you trust yourself and you keep growing. By moving an inch towards your goal, you become stronger and stronger. This is the long way to become a Real Leader.

Surely there are many persons who go through this long way without any supporting help. Some folks are born “Real Leaders” while others might be in need of support. Here enter the role of personal coach. In a sense a personal coach is a “leveller”, someone that can help creating a level playing field out there where everybody can become a Real Leader by reaching any goals been set.

In both cases, being a Real Leader by birth or by hard work or with some help, there is always a personal struggle, including the capacity to take risks. After all, nothing big comes easy.

Now the reason why the first paragraph, when I tried to link up personal/life coaching with leadership, I used the adverb “apparently” is that I am wondering how many renown leaders are actually going for the long route rather than taking the short cut of leading by visibility.

How many so called big leaders are Real Leaders? What’s the role of media in creating a false perception or misleading idea about who are the real leaders? Are we manipulating in thinking of someone in a certain way?

Last Sunday I was interviewing Sushil, one of the two best ENGAGE Corps winner and I asked him what he learned from ENGAGE. What I heard from him was something unexpected but extremely positive: Sushil learned to be more confident by being inspired by Kusum Thokar, our Program Manager. In short he was impressed by the self confidence and at the same time the level of tranquility and sense of determination being shown by Kusum.

The Cambridge Dictionaries online define self confident as someone "behaving calmly because you have no doubts about your abilities or knowledge"

I believe that Kusum fits well in the description of Real Leader: not a super human but a continuous work in progress towards highest standards; someone with the right skills but mostly importantly someone with the humility to learn by doing, a hard worker, resilient and equipped with strong determination.

She is someone capable to win over the insecurities that often block our growth and naturally nourish her self esteem.

The way she chose to be part of ENGAGE is surely a proof that Kusum goes for the long way, silently, learning by doing, not afraid of making mistakes but always determined to keep fighting and achieve a set goal.

There is always room for improvement and Kusum can do much more but incrementally and gradually, projecting to our volunteers a great sense of confidence, she is showing the way on how to become a Real Leader.


Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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