Creating a leadership identity involves letting go of the old self and establishing a more aligned identity where you see yourself as a leader and others recognize it. A new leader must build a new leadership identity if the organization doesn't provide mentoring, development, and support. Here are the steps to doing that.
1. Know your story before you start: Our language reflects how we see ourselves, and that becomes our narrative. Our narrative is in our heads, but it manifests in communication. Identity always drives behavior. One shift in identity would shape the behavior.
2. Develop a personal definition of leadership: Leadership definitions help spot misalignment and make course corrections. Regardless of whether an organization develops its own definition of leadership, all leaders should formulate their own personal definition of leadership.
3. Claim your values: Listen to any leader, and you'll quickly learn their top three or four values, yet it's often hard for them to declare them publicly. I think that's because once we publicly commit to a value, we'll be tested. However, openly declaring our values allows us to make course corrections quickly.
4. Imagine a new you in the future: If you want to create a new future self, you must stop living from the past and start living from the future. Just as if these occurrences have already happened, describe the successes, challenges, relationships and new insights you have gained as a leader. A goal of the exercise is to combine thought and feeling to trick the brain into building a future self.
A leader is more than a title. A leader is an identity. If you do not see yourself as a leader, you must create a new identity. If others do not see you as a leader, you must change your behavior so that their perception of you matches yours. During the journey to build a leadership identity, discomfort is inevitable, but comfort is not required for leadership development.