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 Barry University. You may find out more about Dr. Wildermuth's leadership development, ethics, and intercultural development consulting practice at THIS PAGE.