From Hero to Leader
Updated: May 26
I never gave leadership much thought until I joined Toastmasters. I had always thought of leaders as CEOs, presidents, military commanders and maybe charismatic spiritual rebels. None of this had anything to do with me.
I am a life coach. I empower women to embrace their true selves, to achieve what they really want after a loss or life challenge has shaken their world to it foundation. My people needed love, compassion, understanding, and gentle guidance. What did this have to do with leadership?
Well, I found out! And I want to share it with you!
From Hero to Leader
Four years ago I stepped into leadership for the first time. I became president of the Toastmasters Club Heart2Heart after only 6 months membership. This decision changed my understanding of leadership as well as my life
Initially it was an act of heroism. Heroism, I understood -- selfless action to help another.
People love a hero!
The current president wanted to step down after 2 years of service. I felt compelled to rescue him. I also wanted to rescue our other club leader, Cynthia, who had been holding the club together for 3 years by doing all the work. You know the type.
A triple Ox in Chinese astrology, I was ready to take on the load. I was going to save Cynthiafrom overwork. But Cynthia simply took on other tasks while trying to bring me along. I soon discovered that heroism is a recipe for burnout. There is always too much to do. And busyness tends to attract more busyness.
Fortunately our departing president said something essential that stuck with me as a embraced this leadership adventure. He said, “The president is the easiest role because you delegate everything.” At the time this didn’t mean much because there were so few people in the club to whom I could delegate. Eventually, I got it.
Leadership is the art of getting somebody else to do something you want done, because they want to. –Former US President, Dwight D. Eisenhower
Communicate Your Vision
I began my presidency by getting others to join the club. It was something that came easy to me because I so clearly saw the benefits: First class speaker training at a nominal cost, a place to practice heartfelt offers (the most challenging task of a speaker/entrepreneur), game-changing evaluations (which is why I joined in the first place) and an opportunity to get your speech videotaped at professional studio for free (Toastmaster Time TV). I was doing exactly what Eisenhower’s quote prescribed – getting people to do something because they wanted to.
The club’s size swelled as I mastered this first key of leadership: communicate your vision in a way that invites cooperation and commitment. It was a skill that really serves me in my work.
Activate Their Emotions
Something magical happened during the time I was president — I changed! I became more confident and commanding. My values became clear and this helped me to make important decisions without self-doubt or equivocation. My integrity, enthusiasm, and ability to see what people wanted often before they did, inspired their support. Delegation became easy as I mastered the skill of sharing my win-win vision for the club and its members.
The members could see how I had changed and eagerly began stepping up to the plate. They wanted what I had become — an authentic leader. Suddenly, they were clamoring to fill club officer roles, so many that we created shadow officers position to support the real officers and train replacements in advance.
According to neural scientist Antonio Demasio, people make decisions based on their emotions and then let reason and logic justify their choices.
Many of our leaders in government and corporations use fear and shame to achieve compliance. This is not authentic leadership. This is coercion and manipulation.
You can build you throne with bayonets, but you can’t sit on it long. Boris Yeltsin, First President of Russia
Non-coercive leadership requires uplifting emotions such as inspiration, excitement and enthusiasm to gain cooperation. It takes work but it more than worth it because everyone feels satisfied.
This is the second key of authentic leadership: stimulate positive emotions that create buy-in.
Inspiration and enthusiasm work for my clients as well. They buy-in because they are getting exactly what they want. They are motivated to do the work, to face their fears and make the necessary changes because of their vision.
The most important thing I learned as a leader was trust:
· How to earn the trust of my membership
· How to trust myself
· How to trust my members
This is the third key of leadership and perhaps the hardest to master. We are taught from early childhood not to trust our intuition, impulses, our desires and ourselves. We are taught not to trust others because they may reject us or disappoint us. We are taught to conform, play save, be the good and not rock the boat. Or we learn how to control others through fear or shame, so we can feel safe. Neither of these lessons promotes authentic leadership.
The cool thing about stepping into leadership is that it can start to change you as it did me. It sets you up to learn the lessons of trust. But I have discovered that you can’t do this alone. Mentorship is essential. Otherwise you are likely to stick to your old patterns
I have seen that is possible to go through Toastmasters, to take on all the leadership role and still fail to become an authentic leader. In other words, you can continue to play hero and become overwhelmed.
Working with my clients over the years I have learned that developing trust requires both emotional healing and changing the deeply embedded patterns formed early in life. That is the work I do --- Life Transformation, so you can step into your authentic leadership, you can trust yourself, trust others, and make a difference.
If you read my testimonials you will know that I am easy to trust. My clients share their deepest and most shameful secrets because I do not judge. I understand the fearful inner child who does not want to court rejection be being authentic and vulnerable and have compassion. But revealing shame is only one step. You also need to change the underlying pattern can sabotage your leadership. That takes time and guidance.
If you want to know more about my life transformation coaching, join my Facebook Group: Live Your Brilliance Trainings. If you want to know how I can help you to transform the guilt from the loss of an important relationship or how to become a leader, share your gifts and live without regret, go to Meetwithdrmichelle.com and schedule a 15 minute introductory call.