What is a leader? According to Merriam-Webster, a leader is “a person who leads…who has commanding authority or influence.” Am I a leader? Who can be influenced by little ole me?
Most people would describe me as an introvert. I don’t like the spotlight at all. And, I’m that person who doesn’t mind doing the work but would prefer to stay behind the scenes. However, with the help of some great people and a little encouragement, I realized that there was more leadership in me than I thought.
I was always of the mindset that as long as I did my work and did it well, I’d be noticed. Though that worked for a while, eventually I realized that I was going to have to step out of my comfort zone and show my face to the world. That whole “leadership” thing scared me. How can I lead? I’m not polished and I don’t have the finesse of all the great leaders, or so I thought. I envisioned that in order to be a great leader, I had to have all of these outstanding characteristics I’ve seen in so many other leaders. However, that’s not the case. I found myself reading articles that talked about the characteristics that a leader possesses: compassion, good listening skills, dependability, respectfulness… just to name a few. What I found is that I actually lead every day. I may not be the leader of the free world or a Fortune 500 company, but I lead others on a daily basis, sometimes unknowingly, and so do you. I lead my children and help guide them along life’s journey. I lead my clients and applicants by proactively guiding and helping them to reach their full potential in the disaster recovery process.
As a participant in the Belonging at HORNE Sponsor Program, I’ve learned to push myself out of my comfort zone. The program has presented me with opportunities to meet and work with people that I might not have otherwise had the chance. It’s helping me to find my voice and to let that voice be heard.
There are leaders and there are followers. All of us will play a part in both roles. When it’s your turn to lead, don’t shy away from it. Embrace it and own it.
About the Author
Kim Jenkins is a supervisor in Government Services working on a Hazard Mitigation project where she assists with disaster relief management and compliance. Her active participation in a formal sponsorship program has forever changed her perspective on leadership and challenged her to push out of her comfort zone, find her voice and to let that voice be heard.