I had already recorded this week's message but changed my mind. Something happened yesterday - something powerful and worth discussing. Or rather - someone happened: The beautiful and strong Zozibini Tunzi, the new Miss Universe from South Africa.
Let's face it. I didn't expect to find extraordinary in a beauty pageant. Extraordinary beauty perhaps - not extraordinary leadership. When we think of extraordinary leadership we think of large organizations, world forums, presidents and prime ministers, religious figures. And then I watched Ms. Tunzi's quick and impromptu speech. I added it below.
This was not Ms. Tunzi's only impressive moment. After winning, she also stated:
"I grew up in a world where a woman who looks like me — with my kind of skin and my kind of hair — was never considered to be beautiful," the 26-year-old said during her closing statement. "I think it is time that stops today. I want children to look at me and see my face, and I want them to see their faces reflected in mine."
Ms. Tunzi didn't grow up to be beautiful. She didn't grow up to be a leader. She didn't grow up to have a voice. And yet - she seized her talents, grabbed the moment, and claimed her space.
Like Ms. Tunzi, I didn't grow up ever thinking I could be a leader. To this day, I doubt my abilities, my knowledge, my right to speak up. To this day, I wonder whether my voice is worthy. And yet - I know, deep inside, that it is. I know, even as impostor's syndrome hits me with a vengeance, that I have something to say, something to contribute, people to help. I know the world needs me to claim my space.
Here are my questions to all of you today:
A final message to colleagues who answered "yes" to my first question: You are worthy - and you are not alone.
Whom would you follow without authority? In this brief video, I argue that if you only lead with authority you are not really leading - you are just the boss. To truly be a leader, you need to be able to influence people who would follow you willingly, even if they didn't have to do so.
Dr. Cris Wildermuth
Dr. Cris Wildermuth is Linked:HR's Community Leader and an Associate Professor at Drake University, where she directs the Master of Science in Leadership Development. You may find out more about Dr. Wildermuth's leadership development, ethics, and intercultural development consulting practice at THIS PAGE.