This week I’ve been trying to complete my application for the Future Leaders 2024 program, a 10 month long community leadership program run by Committee of Ballarat and it's got me reflecting on what a leader actually is and if I can, am or could be one. 

When I first read that applications for the 2024 intake were open I didn’t think I had enough ‘leadership’ experience to be considered a serious applicant. I’ve never managed anybody (other than my family), I work for myself in a business of one and help Matt manage our prefab building business.

At first glance I thought ‘that would be nice’ but I might have a better chance of success in a few years when I actually do lead people. When we have a bigger team at HUCX and I have more leadership experience. Even though I’m 41, I still very much consider myself a naive student; very able and enthusiastic to learn but more the ‘mentee’ than the ‘mentor’. 

I sat on the idea for a few days then decided to reach out to a few folks and have a chat about what they thought about me applying. This reluctance to simply apply is because I still suffer from quite a severe case of imposter syndrome. Despite the open candour of these blogs, I still wear a heavy cloak of self doubt. I’m often writing about what I need to hear, not necessarily what I actively practise. 

I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by so many people who believe in me because every person I spoke to thought I already was a great leader - not will be but already am.

Do you know how excitedly confusing that is for me? 

It’s like being told that you're a butterfly when you thought you were only a caterpillar. As silly as it sounds, it honestly took me by surprise. Over the last few years, very naturally and organically, I’ve morphed into an ‘accidental leader’. This came to be firstly through sharing our journey via this weekly blog and secondly, by actively taking part in community groups like AGDA and Ballarat Business Women.

Now, I wonder if I was a man would I be as surprised and need so much external validation about this emerging title of leader? As shitty as it sounds, I still feel fraudulent calling my leader. This whole blog has been written as an exercise to get myself into the headspace of thinking like a leader so I can write an application that is not too self-deprecating. There is an unpreparedness and inexperience that still makes me feel under qualified. 

 

The first thing I had to do was redefine my definition of leadership. I keep getting caught up on the leader being the person at the front of the room, the general leading the troops, but that simply isn’t the case. According to Harvard Business School there are 6 characteristics of an effective leader.

  1. Ability to influence others
  2. Transparency (to an extent)
  3. Encouraging risk-taking and innovation
  4. Integrity and accountability
  5. Act decisively 
  6. Demonstrate resilience

When I break down leadership into its components all of sudden I have a hit list that I can confidently speak to. I can give multiple examples of each category and if you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you’ll probably be able to answer them for me. 

Despite having never actively tried to become a leader, the very way in which we have chosen to live and work has made me one. Having just reread that line this is something I’m very proud of. Using the sister technique (where I remove my name and imagine I’m talking to my sister) I would be SO proud of her. If she said she was unsure about applying for a leadership course I would’ve told her to stop being such an egg and of course you're going to apply because you're a bloody great leader.

When I was running past the local highschool this morning I read a quote that said something like (I was running quite fast and didn’t have my glasses on) “If things don’t go to plan, change the plan, not the goal.” This resonated with me because at a fundamental level, this is what we’re good at. As a family, as a business and as people. 

Our journey has been so fought with failure, with getting shit wrong and missing the mark but we STILL keep going. And going. And going. And going.

We’ve kept on going when there is absolutely nothing left because our goal is a big, fat, important one. We HAVE to be able to build better, more energy efficient homes for people. That's it. That's why we keep going.

When I think about why I’d be a good participant in the leadership course it is because I’ve lived, well, am living through what a leader needs to embody. Our lived experience has gifted us leadership training that is very rare because it’s real. There are no hypotheses or theories, no short course on building resilience… It's 24/7, on the job, every day, full body immersion. 

I would be a great participant in the Future Leaders 2024 program because imagine what we’d be capable of if you put me in a room with 20 other people who were equally as motivated and energised as I am. I’m a very DIY leader now, imagine what 10 months of focused training could create. I’d be unstoppable.

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