Leadership by Coincidence

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Leadership by Coincidence


Sometimes wonderful opportunities come along when we least expect them.


I’M OFTEN ASKED whether I think leaders are born or made. It’s one of the easier questions I get asked and it’s one I love to answer (ask me the doozy about the difference between leadership and management or for my views on the authenticity of leaders, and you’ll see me get all tongue-tied and tetchy!). But the ‘origin of leadership’ question is right in my sweet spot. It’s my comfy slippers question.

During the course of my career it’s become pretty clear to me that successful leaders are made. They’ve often learnt the hard way by serving their time at the leadership coalface and by making mistakes, learning from them, falling over and getting up, dusting themselves off and giving it another go.

The concept of the accidental leader is used to describe someone who suddenly finds themselves in a

leadership position when they weren’t expecting it. This might be due to a sudden resignation in a team, a parental leave announcement, an unexpected promotion or a restructure. Accidental leaders often find themselves in a tricky position. They’re expected to be leaders without the lead-up!

But there’s another group of leaders worthy of an honourable mention.
I like to call these the “coincidental leaders”. They are leaders not by accident, but by coincidence. As an example, last year I was elected secretary of my local primary school parents and citizens (P&C) committee. I’m not absolutely sure how this came about. It wasn’t quite an accident. I went to the AGM because
I was interested in how these things worked and I’d heard that the P&C managed a significant portfolio of staff and revenue. I was curious. And I left the AGM as the secretary of the P&C. No-one else volunteered, I felt I had the skills and the time. My hand went up. And the rest, as they say, is history!

Sometimes we need to step up as leaders. Stepping up is about pitching in, putting your hand up, volunteering and offering your skills. Sometimes the planets align and ‘it’s time’; time to recognise that the world is nudging you!

These kind of roles – coincidental leadership roles – are great ways to hone your skills, to develop and exploit your leadership strengths and work on your leadership weaknesses.

In recent weeks we put the call out for nominations to the AIM board. I was incredibly heartened by the response. The number of Members who responded – and subsequently nominated – is an illustration of the passion that so many Australian leaders have for their Membership organisation.

It’s also perhaps a sign of many coincidental leaders looking to step up and offer their leadership expertise to AIM!


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