Finding Your Sweet Spot in Leadership (psst...we got the secret)

I was a born leader. Have been my whole life.

Most of the time, I just seemed pretty bossy… but my heart was always just to get things done and done well. I’ve naturally fallen into a variety of leadership roles over the years (worship team leader, editor-in-chief of the high school paper, small group leader, etc.) and have always preferred them to just being on the team.

Photos by  Karen Hernandez

Photos by Karen Hernandez

Last year, I found myself as the editor of an exciting new website with total control and free reign over the team and the content. What seemed at first like a thrilling opportunity well-suited to my skillset all of a sudden paralyzed me. I didn’t know how to lead like this. I didn’t know how to cast a vision that others could get behind, how to be assertive and confident, how to set a strong standard.

I didn’t know how to be the kind of leader I knew this team and this project needed.

I spent many weeks feeling uninspired and pretty pathetic about myself, feeling like I didn’t have it in me. Then, a key player entered the scene.

He had been there all along as the leader of the company I worked for, and he was the kind of leader I wanted to be, too, but I had been too busy comparing myself to him to actually learn from him.

We started meeting weekly to talk about the progress of the project, to reflect on team members’ contribution, and just to discuss the status of everything, including my own heart.

Having a mentor like that was the first big step forward for me as a leader.

He was consistent, he challenged me, he believed in me, he saw the big picture vision and also noticed the little logistics, and he knew my field, my strengths, and my weaknesses well. All of those things were crucial. Our weekly meetings gave me a boost of confidence every time, and I started feeling more and more empowered in my leadership ability.

Then, other key players came into the picture. This time, they were people I was leading. They were writers on my editorial staff, producing monthly content for my website. I had always had good relationships with them, but they had been minimal. The more my mentor poured into me, the more I realized I had to pour into them. I started checking in with them more often, and not always about the writing or the work. I set up phone dates and Skype dates with them, and texted them throughout the week just to chat and catch up. I took all the encouragement I was getting from my mentor and in turn spilled out encouragement onto my mentees.

I had found my leadership sweet spot: the middle.

...continue reading on The Yellow Blog! I share ideas of ways to lead AND be led depending on your field, so check that out and let me know what you think!