5 Questions to Find Your Leadership Identity

As a life & leadership coach, one of the many ways I support people is in helping them understand their identity as leaders. How are they uniquely called, drawn, and equipped to influence others? As in all my coaching work, I use questions as a primary tool. And because I know many of you are looking for a clear and focused sense of calling, I have some questions for you.

As Frederick Buechner famously wrote, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” If you’re looking for that intersection of your own deep gladness and the world’s hunger, consider these five questions to help you recognize and take ownership of your identity as a leader.

1. What’s your impact when you’re at your best?
Consider times in the past when you have been at your very best. You know this when you feel it–you’re in the zone. You might lose track of time and find yourself lost in something that brings you a deep sense of fulfillment. You know that you have connected to the best version of yourself. Now consider how this version of you has affected others. What kind of impact have you made when you have been in this zone?

2. What do you dream of?
If you’re like most adults in our society, you don’t take time to dream–you feel too busy, you no longer believe dreams and reality can actually mix, you fear disappointment, or you simply have lost touch with the part of yourself that delights in considering possibilities. But there’s a part of you that is full of dreams and waiting for permission to indulge them. And regardless of where your dreams may lead, they reveal important clues to what matters most to you. They can also point to what God has placed in your heart. So what floats to the surface when you let yourself dream?

3. What’s your greatest fear?
Your own fears can be as unfamiliar as your dreams. Or you can be acutely aware of them. Either way, there’s a good chance your greatest fear acts as a strong motivator in your life. In fact, to a degree, you’ve probably built your life in a way that’s specifically designed to avoid what you are most afraid of–even if you don’t realize it. The best way to find freedom from fear’s controlling influence is to face into it and let God shine his own light on it, but that’s beside my point. What makes fear important to your leadership identity is twofold: it can become a pitfall (because you want so much to avoid what you fear) and it can become a place of courageous service and connection to others. So how does your greatest fear motivate you? What would a courageous response produce?

4. What’s so easy you could do it in your sleep?
It’s natural to assume that the things that come easily for you are easy or instinctive for everyone else. That’s rarely true. In fact, some of the skills that feel most effortless for you, and which you may take for granted, point to your core strengths. They’re part of what makes you who you are. They seem unremarkable to you because they are so deeply ingrained. You probably can’t understand why they would be difficult for anyone. Pay attention and consider what you do best. If you can’t see it, consider the things other people say when they compliment you, or the times when you have achieved the best results without much effort. These strengths will demand that you use them–what are they?

5. What needs are you most moved to meet?
Here’s another way to consider this: If you could change only one thing about the world around you, what would it be? There are no wrong answers here; your heart may or may not be drawn to a popular cause or a vast group of people. Maybe you see a hidden need that calls for a champion. Maybe you see deficiencies you’re longing to correct. You might need to give yourself some space to connect with what really matters to you, tuning out the voices of advocates who have found their calling and eagerly invite you to join. This world has no shortage of hunger, pain, or broken systems, and you are not capable or called to address every need. What matters most deeply to you? What stone has God placed in your shoe?

This is not an assessment; I can’t give you a score or tell you exactly where you answers should lead you. This is an invitation to conversation with yourself–and possibly with me or another coach, counselor, mentor, or wise friend. Take some time to think and pray over your answers, and consider where they point. Get some help interpreting what you learn, to unearth your sense of leadership identity. You are uniquely equipped to influence others, and while many paths may be open to you, I hope you’ll take the one that starts at the intersection of gladness and hunger.

© 2017 Amy Simpson.