A few weeks ago, I was driving from Lethbridge to Calgary with Heather Morley, our VP of Development and Community Relations in Western Canada when she told me a story about her nine-year-old daughter Lauren. Someone at school had shared a troubling secret, leaving Lauren in a difficult position. Should she remain silent or take action to avert a potential crisis? After talking to her mother, Lauren soon came to her own conclusion: “I guess I’ll just have to be a leader.”
This brave nine-year-old was exactly right. Leadership is not about convincing others to follow you. In fact, leadership isn’t really about other people at all. It’s about discovering your own values, then standing up for them. It’s about identifying your skills and gifts, then embracing them wholeheartedly. It’s about realizing you have power, then choosing to exercise it.
When you do these things, you become a leader even if that wasn’t your original goal. An accidental leader can still be a great leader.
Many women get anxious at the idea of ‘becoming a leader.’ We doubt we have what it takes. We worry people will think we’re too bossy. Besides, we’re already juggling too much and don’t want any more responsibility. But leadership doesn’t have to mean climbing the corporate ladder or running for political office (though we desperately need more women to hold formal power). We can also effect tremendous change by more consciously recognizing the power we have in our families, within our circle of friends, and in our own neighbourhoods. It all starts with becoming the leader of our own life.
This issue is packed with inspiring stories about leadership. You’ll meet Lethbridge resident Christopher Rout, who speaks out against violence on behalf of his mother, Joanne (Christopher’s Story). You’ll learn that women’s leadership is not a new idea: women were the traditional leaders of Aboriginal peoples until their power was stripped away through colonization (Yes You Are). And you’ll meet a CBC journalist who was so convinced she was not a leader she almost turned down my invitation to write our guest column (Learning to hold yourself up).
You become a leader when you take action to create the future you want. So let’s go!
Diane Hill, SHE Editor, Senior Writer, Canadian Women’s Foundation
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