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Being a Leader: Benefits, Drawbacks, and How to Face it All

Career Advice |

The word “leader” means different things to different people. It often conjures up images of a person behind the podium at a huge conference, the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, or the spokesperson for a social cause.

You certainly don’t have to be a household name to be a leader. In fact, you don’t have to be known at all outside your normal social circle. Being a leader has little to do with fame and everything to do with courage, open-mindedness, and commitment.

[Learn: Be a Better Leader with Tiffany Dufu]

We’re willing to bet that as a Levo reader, you’re a leader in at least one area of your life. But how can you tell? What does leadership look like in everyday life?

  • If you’re willing to address an issue, voice a belief, stand up for yourself or others, or express an unpopular opinion—you’re a leader.
  • If you’re trying to make a living doing what you truly love, even if it means breaking free from the stable office life—you’re a leader.
  • If people frequently seek you out for advice, help, or support because they believe in your compassion and strength—you’re a leader.

A true leader is anyone who’s open to a new path, willing to challenge the status quo, and brave enough to lead and educate others through words or by example (often both).

[Read: 6 Must-Read Books to Become a Kick-Ass Leader (According to *Real* Kick-Ass Leaders)]

Leadership can be scary, and not everyone is willing to speak up in front of strangers or take an unconventional path. Seth Godin explains in his book Tribes, “Leadership is scarce because few people are willing to go through the discomfort required to lead.”

Leadership can also be lonely. Your friends and family may not fully understand or support your actions or beliefs, and there are plenty more people who will call you wrong, crazy, or a know-it-all. It’s impossible to please everyone when you’re a true leader, and that can feel disappointing and isolating.

However, the benefits of stepping up and being a leader—the connection with the people who really get you, the adrenaline rush of pure passion, and the authenticity of living in alignment with your values—far out-shadow the discomfort. Being a leader means creating a truly amazing life and inspiring others to do the same. You’re more than capable of being a true leader in one (or several) areas of your life.

As Seth Godin said, “You have everything you need to build something far bigger than yourself.”

Have your own set of benefits and drawbacks to being a leader in your community? Share with us in the comments!

Ask Levo Mentor Soledad O’Brien, Award-winning journalist and CEO of Starfish Media, her opinion about being a mentor and how she copes with the potential risks and setbacks.


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"A true leader is anyone who’s open to a new path, willing to challenge the status quo, and brave enough to lead and educate others through words or by example (often both)."

Love this quote, really identifies what a true leader is!


I really loved reading such an honest article about leadership- so powerful and thought provoking. Leadership can be such a taboo term and I like the way this article addresses all its components, for better or for worse.


I love how this article points out that leadership can take many different forms. Sometime we don't even know our potential until we are faced with a situation that requires leadership. Thanks for the insight!


Good article. Just one more thing to remember is that a true leader is someone who can inspire others to do better. Anyone/anything that comes in your way of doing so is not worth your time and energy.


This was one of the greatest lessons I learned in leadership. I thought leadership was always delegating tasks and being the smartest in the room. The truth is true leadership is building everyone strengths and working to diminish their weaknesses. As a leader, you must be ready for the longer hours, the motivation to a team and the ability to know who you can depend on for plan b-z when A doesn't work out.

Kristen Walker

Kristen Walker is a professionally trained life coach for people in their 20s and 30s and the co-founder of Clarity on Fire Coaching, a life coaching company specifically for Millennials who want to figure out their passion, turn it into a viable career, and create a solid plan to find freedom. Ready to take the first step toward figuring out your passion? Take her short, free quiz -- The Passion Profile Quiz -- to determine your ideal relationship between your passion and your career.