Born To Lead. Not.

Dear Aunt Bossy,

I love my work. Unfortunately, just doing a good job is not considered enough by my employer and I am expected to be active in an association that represents my industry.

 Part of being active involves being on committees and in groups that are always looking for someone to be in charge. I am very competent, so they are always after me to take charge of something. I don’t want to be in charge, but I feel guilty because I know that the groups really do good work and bring value to my firm.

I’m not lazy, but my life is very busy and I am afraid I will let everybody down because I won’t have enough time to devote to the organization, and I am not a natural leader.

What can I do?


Dear Sandra,

First of all you have to decide if you love your work enough to step up to the plate and take on the responsibility that comes with being active in an organization. If not, you should start looking for a job where you will not be expected to spread your wings in that way.

If you are willing to get involved and learn to lead, you are in for a big treat that will serve you well in all areas of your life.

All successful leaders delegate. No one can do everything alone. Learning to delegate in business can change your whole life. If you can delegate to an executive vice-president, you can get your kids to do their own laundry. Delegation can set you free. Besides, it is good to be the Monarch, even in a very small kingdom.

The key to delegation is really getting to know the other members and participants and honing in on what they bring to the organization. If you pay close attention to others, you will discover wonderful qualities, sometimes qualities that the other person doesn’t even know he or she has. Now, that is a gift!

Your first job is to reach out and listen to others. The second is to figure out what role each person can play in the group, and ask for help. The third is to build enthusiasm.

After that, your biggest challenge will be to assess and re-assess, adjust people and things to keep success going. Your goal is to create more leaders by finding out what people enjoy doing and enrolling them in doing just that.

You will also want to enroll support in your new role, a mentor in a sense. This doesn’t necessarily have to be someone in the same organization, but should be someone who can take a clear look at your path and offer advice, suggestions and (gulp) constructive criticism. You know, someone bossy.

As you move toward your goals (which should be clearly defined and written down and shared) don’t take your eye off the process of getting there. By paying close attention to the process, you may even reach goals you didn’t know you had. I call them Magic By-Products. Your relationship with your team members will likely be one of those.

As for time management: Managing time is way easier than managing people. Your time MUST obey you.

Yes, we know you are busy. We are busy, too. If you start with a time assessment, writing down everything you do all day long, you will be surprised at how much time can be used more productively. You may have to put yourself on a Facebook or Twitter diet, but it can be done.

Aunt Bossy thinks you should go for it! You may find the best thing about being in charge of something is that you can quit, but you may also find a wonderful new world full of new people and challenges that bring great joy.

Good luck!

Ta Da! Aunt Bossy announces: “Do This. It Works: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Authentic and Effective Presentations. The Twitter Version.” It’s free. Email and ask and she will have her crack new assistant, Montgomery, cyber it right out to you.

Aunt Bossy is Susan Murphy, an internationally known Communication Skills Coach who adores spending every winter and spring in Beaufort.  Ask for advice @

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