A question I've often pondered is "what is leadership"? Is it a state, is it making decisions, is it a title, is it management?
Turns out I don't think it's really fundamentally any of those. One thing I have discovered for certain, you don't need a "leadership" title to be a leader.
If you are reading this, you are a leader in some form. You might be the newest person in your company but you can lead in some way.
When I break down leadership to it's most basic element, I come up with one word.
And really, what is communication? It is information sharing. As a leader, to facilitate communication, you have to ask questions. And then listen... like a lot. You have to deeply absorb what people around you are saying. Once you've done that, you will eventually get to the point where you begin to come up with suggestions and solutions to solving the problems around you.
Leadership is having the audacity to be vulnerable. It means once I've communicated with those around me and I think I have a solution, I'm going to throw my idea out there regardless of what my co-workers think. It means I will allow my "good" idea to be chewed on by the team and turned into something even better (or thrown away).
This is super hard, because when you think you have a good idea, and it gets ripped to shreds, it hurts. But, it's how you get better. You pick yourself up again, rinse and repeat. Eventually something will stick and you will begin to have an impact.
In fact I believe a properly functioning team is when everybody is leading. It means everybody initiates communication and is trying to solve the problems around them.
It's just not possible to lead without communication. If someone "leads" without communication, at best it is merely management.
So if you are still wondering if you are a leader (because you don't have the title), let me ask you... do you have the ability to ask questions? If your answer is yes, than yes you can be a leader.
So get up, get out of your comfort zone and go start asking some questions.
Question, listen, absorb, innovate. That's the leadership cycle. Go do it!