Were You Born a Leader or Did You Become One?

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By Fay Lawrence

When you are an expert in your field and you are called a Subject Matter Expert (SME), the probabilities of getting promoted, “if” you play your cards right are high.  The problem resides in you getting promoted to become a team leader, a supervisor or a manager who is responsible for managing “humans.”

Once the celebration dies down and you are expected to perform as “the leader” of the team, department or organization without ever being in charge or managing people, this “promotion” becomes a challenge.

Don’t despair…I know you gave it a lot of thought; the position, the money and the responsibilities look glamorous, but the thought of leading “this team” appear to be a daunting one.  The one thing to remember, is that leadership is not a “trait” that only the “chosen” have.  Leadership is a behavior, a skill, an attitude and, like any skill, it can be learned and developed.  Your advantage, is that you can learn while on the job.

I think of Moses, Jeremiah, Joshua and even Gideon, to name some great leaders in the Bible, who never believed they had it in them to lead the people of Israel.  But, God had faith in them and helped them become good leaders step-by-step.

The more I work with leaders, the more I see that if you believe in yourself and follow “the steps,” you too can become the best leader you ever wanted to be.  Leadership is a choice:  Have you made the decision to become one?

Early in my career, I had female soldiers who would come to me for “mentoring.” In the beginning, I would panic, push it off and come up with excuses for why it was not a good fit, until I was given the opportunity to lead the most difficult pair I ever encountered.  They didn’t like me and did all they could to sabotage my efforts, but I took the challenge head-on and learned to successfully lead them even though we didn’t like each other. We were a successful as a “team.”

As each left the organization, they came back to me to apologize.  They told me they could not believe that I could work with them and still be fair.  Although it was a very tough situation, I truly learned to treat people with dignity and respect, even when they disliked me.  For me, leadership is about getting things done through others; it’s about influence and results with excellence.  You don’t have to like them, they don’t have to like you but, together, we need to accomplish the mission, period.

I learned valuable lessons. I looked around me and came up with traits, behaviors and attitudes, I admired in my bosses.  I only had a female boss, the rest, the commanders were all men.  I learned something from each one. I looked at the gap between me and them then worked on improving myself.  As a result, I was decorated multiple times for leading a team of brilliant employees to the Pentagon and later became one of the top leaders for a global organization, all because I believed I could do it and I learned from the best in my “industry.”

I want to share this tool with you.  I share it with my coaching clients and I am sure it can help you too.

  1. Click Here to get the worksheet.  Think of a leader, the best leader in your organization.  Think about why this person is so respected.  Why his people succeed?  What makes her the best?
  2. Make a list of the behaviors, skills and attitudes this person display that makes her the best. Use the attached worksheet.
  3. Now, rate this person’s skills from 1 to 7 (one being needs help and 7 being masterful)
  4. Next, read the list again, now it’s your turn. With a different color pen, rate yourself based on the same behaviors, skills and attitudes.
  5. Now check out the gap? Analyze it?  How far apart are you from her?
  6. Select one or two behaviors (max) you would like to work on and get moving to improve. I recommend that you select the behavior or the skill that will give you more leverage.

There are many “gurus” who talk about not making changes to your weaknesses and concentrate on your strength.  I disagree to an extent.  When you have a “fatal flaw” that can hurt the organization’s bottom line, you need to do something to transform that behavior or improve your skills to turn things around.  You may not become masterful at the 7 points, but you can become a 5 or a 6, which is not bad at all.

If you need additional support or if you know any new leader who needs someone to hold her hand as she grows into her leadership role, please don’t hesitate in letting me know.

Your Mindset is Sabotaging your Career and Life

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What stops you from achieving your goals?  When you think of your unaccomplished dreams, is there anything you can put your hands on?

What gets in your way of achieving your deepest life desires?  Do you know?

Yes, you can say it is fear… but fear takes many forms.

In this post, I want to call this “awkward feeling,” a form of fear and self sabotage by its rightful name…

“Imposter Syndrome”, also known as Fraud Syndrome or Inner Critic.

So, what is Imposter Syndrome? According to Wikipedia, “it is a term coined by Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes.  According to the research, Imposter Syndrome refers to high-achieving individuals who has the inability to internalize their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.”

According to Merriam-Webster, the Imposter Syndrome is viewed as a false and sometimes crippling belief that one’s successes are the product of luck or fraud rather than skill. 

A crippling belief indeed.  This belief has been stopping women from moving up into management and recognizing their full potential for years.   I must admit that I am still a work in progress, when I think about Imposter Syndrome.  What about you?  This is an issue I have been battling for many years but never knew it was a truly researched and defined condition.  I never saw myself as being shy (and if you know me, you certainly know that I am far from being shy).  However, even today, I need to constantly keep my eyes open and evaluate myself to not fall into the feelings and behaviors of someone with Imposter Syndrome.

When you become aware of the feelings and behaviors that contribute to having Imposter Syndrome and realize how they are hindering your progress, you have the key to solving it in your hands.  Each one of us may have a different solution but this is a journey we all need to take. I can’t guarantee that you will ever stop the feelings or the voices in your head that’s hindering you; but, you will be able to make and manage your progress and results despite the feeling of being a “fraud.”

These of some of the Characteristics that Describes someone with Imposter Syndrome… do you have any?


  • You have difficulty accepting praise. You feel awkward when people celebrate your successes.
  • You discount your success, minimizing your accomplishments.
  • You dread success in some ways because you feel you will need to maintain that level or risk being exposed as someone not as competent as others originally believed.
  • You are paralyzed by the fear of failure and you’d rather not achieve than to fail in any way, shape or form? And later beating up yourself for not trying.
  • You avoid showing confidence in yourself and your abilities because of the way others will perceive you.
  • You over-work, over-research and over-study because it’s never enough. You need to cover all the bases.
  • You’re obsessed with perfection; you want your projects to be perfect. If they aren’t perfect, they won’t be launched or deployed.


How these behaviors keep you stuck and comfortable in the same role for years?


  • You stop taking risks.


  • You feel overwhelmed and under-accomplished because there is never enough time to get everything done.
  • You don’t apply for promotions because there may be some others more qualified who applied, at least, that is what you think?
  • You don’t set the necessary boundaries so you get stuck with more work and projects than your peers. Earning the same salary.
  • You don’t share your ideas in meetings because you fear criticism–from your team, your boss or even your peers.
  • You are somewhat fearful to make profound change in your department or area.
  • You avoid making decisions and giving orders with confidence and drive, because you don’t want to be called the “b….” word.
  • You are constantly holding your breath thinking that some way, someday, someone will expose or embarrass you as the “fraud” you perceive yourself to be in your own head, despite your extensive experience, knowledge and successes.

Guess what, even leading ladies and leading men in Hollywood are victims of the Imposter Syndrome, we are talking about Hugh Laurie, Emma Watson, Viola Davis and the list goes not, you don’t believe me?  Watch:;


So how do you control this “Syndrome”?   


How do you overcome it?  How do you Safeguard yourself? 


Imposter Syndrome is all about feelings of inadequacy.  These feelings will linger in your heart and mind, even when you have successes and accomplishments that should easily override them.

Just remember: It is all in your head!

Take note:

  • Awareness is key. You can only manage what you know.  If you deny the fact that you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, you will always fall short of your greatness.
  • Understand that this feeling may never go away, but you can learn to live with it. It’s a daily struggle but, I promise you, it does get better.
  • Action is the best antidote. Don’t be afraid and have faith that you will be OK.
  • Remind yourself that you don’t need to know everything. Learn to rely on your team or even in your ability to find the answers.  This will minimize your need to know everything and to procrastinate.
  • Learn to talk to your issue or even to the voices in your head… let “her” (the voice in your head) know that you will be alright and “she” doesn’t have to worry about you. You’ve got this!
  • Recognize your expertise, create an achievement wall, file (testimonials/letters of recommendations) or jar (with your successes). Use them as needed.
  • Flip the Script, change your thinking. Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones.  Granted, it will take some work to not only to say it, but to also believe it… Keep the Course.
  • Have bible verses and words of wisdom at your fingertips to read in times of doubt.
  • Visualize your success. Prepare and visualize yourself speaking in the meeting, completing the project and leading your team with success.
  • Pray and meditate to minimize your feelings of inadequacy. Real “Faith” can be your cornerstone.
  • Seek support, schedule time with me, a coach and mentor, who will hold you accountable and guide you along your path to success.

If you need additional help to work things out, let’s talk!  Contact me to schedule a complimentary session at  Rest assured, I will give you the very best assistance available for your journey into the exciting, wonderful and rewarding world of personal success.

 Fay A. Lawrence, MBA, ITF.  She is a Leadership and HR Strategist, Author and Master Trainer.  Fay has been providing human development solutions and change management for more than 20 years at the national and international level in English and Spanish.  Fay works with Fortune 500 companies as well as with Non-Profits and Governmental Agencies.  She is committed to be a support and guide for organizations who want to transform their culture and develop their leadership in order to be effective and relevant in today’s market.  For more information, contact her at or visit the website at:

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