How to Start Leading, Even if You’ve Never Done it Before.

Jake Wilder
7 min readOct 16, 2021

The World Needs Leaders More Than It Needs Managers

“A real leader,” David Foster Wallace wrote, “can somehow get us to do certain things that deep down we think are good and want to be able to do but usually can’t get ourselves to do on our own.” There are few more fitting definitions of leadership than inspiring others to be better people. And yet, when most people think of leaders they don’t draw this analogy. They think of management. They think of people in the spotlight or and names at the top of an organizational chart.

We need to rid ourselves of this definition. It’s wrong. It perpetuates the myth that leadership is limited to those at the top of an organization. It intimidates people from starting to lead. All at a time where we need more people to do so.

As the world becomes more complex and faster pace, our need for strong leadership continues to rise. We can’t rely on a few people at the top to lead us through the challenges of the future. Leadership is too important to leave to management.

No great leader started out as a great leader. Everyone starts with zero. It’s the decisions we make to step up, take risks, learn from our failures, and build on our successes that turn us into leaders. These choices, compounded through consistency, build great leaders.

Leadership doesn’t need to be overwhelming. It’s not an exclusive club. Everyone has this opportunity. We just need to start.

Don’t Go to Business School. At least, not yet.

“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” — Isaac Asimov

Business schools are an attractive prospect. The option to spend two years debating case studies and networking, instead of actually working, is tempting. After which you’ll have a high-paying management job and enough leadership skills to guarantee your spot in the C-suite. All it costs are some application fees and your signature on a few loan documents.

Yet here’s the problem. Business school is insanely expensive. Dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn leadership practices, before you’ve had any leadership experiences, seems like a poor investment. If…

Jake Wilder

I don’t know where I’m going. But at least I know how to get there.