We tend to think of leadership solely as an external force, associated with those who effectively carry out the responsibilities of their office or direct their staff in a confident way. That’s very useful, but it’s only one kind of leadership. There is another kind- internal leadership- that does not depend on office or position or staff hierarchy or anything imposed or granted from without. This kind of leadership is generated instead by an inner force that compels us to try and make the surrounding world- whether it’s our family, our community, the entire nation, or beyond- a better place.
When we define leadership only in the most narrow, external way- thinking of it only as it relates to elected office and the executive suites of corporate America- we undervalue the internal qualities of leadership that made outsiders like Martin Luther King, Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, and Mother Teresa such powerful leaders. For women to be fearless in leadership, they have to embrace these internal gifts.