Jen Coken
6 min readMar 2, 2023

Everybody is a leader, AND everyone has barriers to their unique leadership expression that make them less effective or inspiring than they could be. On the surface, the barriers can look like barking orders or micromanaging or barreling through people to get shit done. And it can result in the people they’re leading being disengaged, disempowered, and unproductive — among other things.

I used to be a leader who used force to get things done back when I was running political campaigns. You’ve heard the Sinatra song I did it my way, yeah? Well, that was pretty much my leadership style. You did it my way or you got out of my way because election day was drawing near and we had stuff to do! Not only was I forceful, I was a perfectionist to boot. My people liked the work, but they didn’t necessarily look forward to coming to work every day.

That was a loooonng time ago. It was before I discovered CliftonStrengths and strengths-based leadership. A time before I got my own personal coach to work with and uncover the beliefs that were shaping how I was showing up in both my personal and professional life. I discovered my Imposter Syndrome and how it was holding me back. Not just from my own aspirations but from my overall greatness and great leadership.

It wasn’t that I was incapable of being a wonderful, inspiring, effective leader that people naturally wanted to follow. It was that I had barriers to that expression of leadership. I see this all the time with those I coach.

They come to me and to talk about how lousy they feel. They wonder whether the decisions they are making are the right ones or are going to hurt someone. They doubt the ways they are leading their team. They’re frustrated by what looks like (and probably is) a lack of accountability or engagement or desire among their team members to perform well and have no idea how to fix it. And they’re exhausted. Period.

Truly, when we start working together, they’re not sure they are the right person to lead their company. They don’t believe they were ‘born to be a leader.’ If you’re nodding your head in agreement thinking, “That’s me. I wasn’t born to be a leader.” I’m going to stop you right there.