Are you waiting for permission to lead?

By Paul Smith, Co-founder and CEO //

Leadership, whether entrepreneurial, managerial, executive or non-executive doesn’t need experience, it needs attitude. Anyone can be a successful leader, but complacency can play no part. None!

All to often I witness wannabe leaders (especially of the boardroom-type) waiting for things to happen TO them rather than making things happen FOR them.

Exceptional leaders speak up, ask questions, enquire, research. They are proactive not reactive. There is nothing wrong with being reactive but don’t expect to thrive in leadership role, and especially not the boardroom.

To get senior executive or non-executive roles, or at least maximise the chance, you need to be willing to step up and take action, drive yourself and inspire others.

Are we too complacent?

As a coach and board educator, where I feel I’m lacking is the ability to truly inspire others into action. Admittedly, I’m too much of a perfectionist and I want everyone to “get it” not just the percentage that are really leaned in.

Also, compared to other countries, Australians seem to be a complacent lot. This is not just my observation but the opinion of many executive and non-executive coaches that I speak with (they’d prefer me not to quote them). We’ve discussed the drivers of this and we can only conclude that the “lucky country” has bred a largely complacent country. Parents, Governments and employers have spoonfed us into a stupor.

I chat with peers in the UK, Singapore, NZ and USA about this and they often cannot believe it’s true. The UK was like this, but the GFC, immigration and austerity has shifted things to a degree. It probably helps that they are not so isolated. In the United States, with so many country-wide issues the spirit of freedom but no safety net means that perhaps complacency will never set in. It’s just not in their DNA.

Not everyone can lead, or wants to!

There is a flip side to this. It’s the realisation that whilst anyone can be a leader, not everyone wants, or was born, to be a leader. Perhaps it’s just the special minority that maintain that drive even with the support they receive. With younger generations coming through, for some that support is not even there. They are crippled with student debt or are increasingly avoiding university all together to get working experience.

There are those that didn’t have it so easy and they end up at the very top. As a parent, I often think about whether depriving my child of opportunities will breed a better leader. He’s only 4 years old! Fuck, parenting is hard and we are lucky compared to 99% of the world’s population.

This has been a bit of a rant but it’s been a trying year of activating people. I always said if we can make a professional education and community business succeed in the small population, big geography, competitively-landscaped Australia…….we can make it anywhere.

Want to be a great leader. Stand up and be counted.