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Last week I attended a three-day leadership conference in Sydney, hosted by McKinsey & Company. I was nominated by one of the General Managers at work, and they paid for my travel and accommodation. It was 300+ people from all over Australia and from a variety of companies all coming together to learn how to be better leaders.

I’ve struggled with the idea of feeling like a leader. Ever since high-school I’ve been in positions of leadership, both at work and in the community. I tell myself stories about why; I was the only choice, no one else would do it, whoever made the decision didn’t know I wasn’t qualified.

I want to stop telling myself those stories. I want to believe I deserve these roles. At the closing of the conference participants were asked to talk about what they would be taking home. I stood up and said I need to re-frame my idea of ‘leader’. I have often had people in my life for whom I acted as an advocate. I have had people in my life who were willing to do what I suggested. I’ve had people who followed me, and I feel a responsibility to those people. This is a big part of what makes me a leader – taking due care of the people who are following me, relying on me, trusting me to take care of them. I use my strength, my skills, my energy to help others.

My mother has had numerous positions of leadership throughout her life and I think she feels much the same as I do. I’m proud of her, she has set an excellent example of leadership and community service. The roles she’s had have made me more comfortable accepting the roles I’ve been given.

Sometimes I wish I could give up my ‘day job’ and make money off my creative stuff, but there are parts of it that energise my other pursuits. I learn new skills, I develop new networks, I earn a living so that when my writing, or performance, don’t make any money I’m not resentful or stressed out.

The biggest lessons I took from the conference were about leading myself. They were things I can do to be a better leader, but also a better person. So I’m now going to try to focus on three things:

  • Eat that frog (stop putting off the hard stuff)
  • Be present (do one thing at a time)
  • Be kind (to myself first and to others)

It feels wanky using my blog to talk about this stuff, probably because I’m still not 100% comfortable, but as one of the participants said to me afterwards : ‘You are a natural leader. It’s time to take the next step.’