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If you know my work you’ll know that I don’t think this is true – but it is one of the most hidden and widely agreed upon limiting mindsets. It plagues organizations and it impedes personal and social breakthroughs.

The mindset shift I want to focus on today is moving

From ‘Not Everyone is a Leader’ to ‘Everyone has the inherent ability to lead.’

This belief that not everyone can lead is ingrained culturally, socially, personally, and within our companies. Its hold on us paralyzes our ability to step up.

The limiting mindset is something like this: Leaders look a certain way. Some people can lead, and others can’t. A leader means you’re always doing something big. Leaders are appointed or designated. Some people (eg women/ people of color/non-literate) just aren’t good at leading. Leaders are extraverted and charismatic.

You might be nodding your head reading this – believing this to be true about leadership, be it yours or others! I’ve heard many people baulk at describing themselves as a leader.

The antidote to the limiting mindset is the expansive mindset, and it looks like this: Everyone can lead. I am a leader. Leaders come from all parts of the organization/society. A person chooses to become a leader. A leader is someone who looks at a situation that needs to be changed, and even though they may not have caused the issue, they take responsibility for its resolution. The most unlikely people can lead.

I’ve met countless women from Africa and South Asia who had not inherent authority or track record. They had all the reasons why they couldn’t lead. Yet they stepped into leadership and got their daughters educated despite a climate of hostility and poverty. If we reframe leadership to being about taking on an issue that’s important, and stepping up to get it resolved, then in this context we can all be leaders!

For those of us passionate about empowering humans, the question becomes not ‘can they lead?’ but ‘what will make the difference in unlocking this persons inherent ability to lead?’

What do you think about leadership? Does everyone have the potential to lead? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading. Where do you get stuck in your perspective of yourself?