I am a leader. Apparently.
I am a leader amongst women. Yup.
Hey! Don’t knock it. This leadership stuff is rather intoxicating, I’m beginning to see the appeal of rampant megalomania. And anyway, I s’pose as a captain of industry (ahem), I am a leader of sorts. But as a sole trader “take me to your leader” doesn’t quite cut it.
I quite like the idea of leading from the front, of mere minions falling down at my feet, and hanging on to my every word, but let’s face it, pigs might fly. I’d like to think I’ve got the qualities and strength necessary to lead from the front, but in the past the high heid yins didn’t quite see it my way. They tended to cast me in the chief troublemaker role. And yes, I confess I may not have been a particularly easy person to lead.
But this week I was a leader, because I was invited by a Cally Uni student group, Caledonian Women, to join an eminent panel of fab female leader types to share our thoughts as part of the “I Am A Leader” campaign. Our brief was to encourage ambition and aspiration for leadership roles from young women, and to do so by describing what we would tell our 20 year old selves.
OMG! For a kick off, at 20 I’d already spent quite a bit of my feckless youth staggering down the stairs from the bar at The Tech (which is what we ancient harridans once called Cally Uni). At that age, I was waaaayyyyy too busy getting pissed and living it irresponsibly large at Manchester Poly to be worrying about any future career as a leader. I did work kinda hard at my studies, but an awful lot of time was spent in boozers, night clubs and the Curry Mile. And I wouldn’t change any of it, even if the chance to step into Margaret Thatcher’s shiny leadership shoes had been presented to me on a prime ministerial plate.
But thanks to the gals at Cally, I’ve been able to look back over the subsequent 30 year rollercoaster of working life from a brand new perspective, even with these rapidly failing middle aged eyes.
So get this. There were times when I did want to be the boss, to lead from the front, to be the top dog. I wanted to inspire, motivate, direct and demand. But it was never going to happen. I can see clearly now why I was passed over quite a few times. Not because I lacked skills or experience, or wore the wrong clothes. My failure to make it in leadership roles was because I can’t talk. I can’t talk the talk, and I can’t play the game. My peg is too square to fit in that hole, and I’m simply shite at sitting back and accepting.
Being built like that certainly brought me a lot of grief, and made it hard to get on. Kicking against the pricks prevented me from climbing the greasy pole and making more of a mark from the top. And there were times when I was my own worst enemy. But from where I’m sitting now, at the head of an empire (well, you know what I mean), it feels tickety-boo to finally be doing it my way. Setting my own rules and standards is the best of the best, and has made me feel fulfilled like never before.
Shame it took me so long to see the leadership light.