The Blog.

Unlikely leadership

27 Apr 2015 | Being Human

I was at a leadership conference this weekend and had the privilege of being asked to be on the Q&A panel.

It wasn’t until I got there that I caught myself wondering – what am I doing here? Who am I to be on this panel? The other panelists were leading churches and charities. They have teams of people who are answerable to them. Who do I lead? What qualifies me to to answer these questions?

Thankfully, one of the speakers shared this quote, which reminded me:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

That’s good enough for me. I don’t lead a team of people as such, but my work is all about inspiring others to lead themselves and others well, which meant I could answer all the questions from my own authentic perspective.

How often do we forget that leadership is an act, not a status?

How often do we find ourselves in situations beyond our direct control, situations where we don’t have authority, status or power, where we’re don’t necessarily identify ourselves as a ‘leader’ and yet we can lead anyway?

  • We can lead in the words we choose to speak
  • We can lead in the energy and the attitude we take into a room
  • We can lead in the vision we cast, even when we’re not stood at the front of the room
  • We can stand up for what we believe in, or follow the crowd
  • We can lead by example, by the tone or standard we set
  • We lead when we show up instead of shrinking back
  • We lead when we give freely and fully, instead of waiting for permission
  • We lead in how we choose to respond to every situation, whether we are ‘the leader’ or not.

What would it look like to take a lead in that meeting with your boss this week, in your relationship with that demanding client, in the tricky conversation at home you know you need to have, or even in the casual chit chat on the playground?

Where could you show up in a way that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more? What are your unlikely territories of leadership this week?


  1. Richard Tubb

    What an inspiring blog post Grace and a great quote from John Quincy Adams, thank you for sharing both! I love the philosophy of not waiting for permission to lead. You can become a leader any time, any place!

    • Grace Marshall

      Thanks Ric – and thank you for your encouragement to keep on sharing!

  2. Michelle Riley

    I’ve never thought of it like that before. I tend to pass over content regarding leadership because of my solopreneur status, but I need to keep this in mind, that we can all lead in our own lives and the way we conduct ourselves in business.

    • Grace Marshall

      Absolutely Michelle, you are a leader 🙂

  3. Bev Murrill

    Great post, Grace, and thanks for being on the panel at Kyria conference.

    • Grace Marshall

      A pleasure Bev – thanks for asking!

Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

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