How To Be A Leader When Grappling With Anxiety


By Kristina Baltutis

In today’s society, we are in desperate need of more leaders. Not necessarily people with leadership titles, but people who are actually, truly, on the front lines of our schools, workplaces, and communities, striving to make the world a better place for people other than themselves.

If you haven’t heard this call to leadership, you aren’t listening. It’s all over the news and your newsfeed, every time you see someone crying out, “Someone do something.” Sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve heard the call, but anxiety wracks your body with doubt and sends you right back under the covers, or, perhaps more commonly, causes you to keep scrolling.  

Leadership doesn’t mean standing on a podium giving speeches. Leadership, at its core, is about serving other people. This can be at any level: family, community, school, city, county, state, national, international. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if everyone was a little more interested in supporting other people?

“The true price of leadership is the willingness to place the needs of others above your own. Great leaders truly care about those they are privileged to lead and understand that the true cost of the leadership privilege comes at the expense of self-interest.” ― Simon Sinek

Your society needs you, but anxiety is no joke. It’s always necessary to take care of yourself first. This might mean talking with a counselor or therapist, reading self-help books, learning to meditate, starting medication, and it may be a combination of any or all of these things. Anxiety covers a broad spectrum of experiences, so nothing here will apply to everyone.

However, don’t tell yourself that you will only take up the mantle of leadership once your anxiety is completely gone. Anxiety is an entirely natural emotion, so experiencing some level of it may just mean you’re human! Know that you are enough, exactly as you are today. Your experience is something valuable to share with your community. If people like you don’t speak up, the rest of the world will never benefit from what you have to say.

Maybe you’re ready to just do it. Walk confidently to the edge of the high dive and when the butterflies seize your stomach and you doubt your decision, jump anyway to save face.

Perhaps you need to do this thing with some baby steps instead. Pick one little project. It could be planning a small event, running a meeting, or volunteering for a fundraiser. It could even be something as simple as calling one of your legislators.

The important thing is that it has a specific goal with a specific endpoint. Divide it up into a smaller to do list, pick one item from the to do list at a time, and schedule time to work on it. Once you’re finished, celebrate your successes, learn from your mistakes, and pick another little project.

Whether you know it or not, you already have an influence. Every day, when people interact with you, they feel either a little more positive or a little more negative at the end of the conversation. Wield this power responsibly.

In the twelve-step program initially developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, Step Twelve is when you reach back to others who are behind you in the steps and share your knowledge with them. In other words, Step Twelve is about becoming a mentor. If you are a mentor for other people, suddenly you are held accountable for your efforts, because there are other people looking up to you.

With every step you take, look back to see who’s behind you, and reach for them. Bring them with you. We need them too.

Kristina is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty On Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click HERE.

{featured image via pexels}

3 thoughts on “How To Be A Leader When Grappling With Anxiety

  1. Robert Varga says:

    I love to read away some mornings with such well expressed thoughts, on very good topics. Well, I have been twice, with two different jobs, in leadership positions. After getting the people know well enough, worked all out great. They saw communication on a human and comfortable (and direct) way, a piece of fairness helps too, combined with a healthy amount of authority. Wasn’t always easy, especially considering the start, and a bit of anxiety is normal, but resulted in great experiences, professionally and privately.


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