So do you think you can lead?
Here are four questions to help you start thinking through your own answer:
- Do I want to have more impact in my organization? When you look around, do you see ways you can make things better for employees, customers, and the bottom line? The second you start thinking about making things better for others is the second you starting thinking like a leader. In the end, all leaders step up to make the world a better place, whether they’re focused on a small team, a department, an organization, or society.
- Do I have the stomach for leadership? Leadership is hard, and the best leaders demonstrate courage. Are you strong enough to make the tough calls, deal with poor performance issues, and face uncomfortable situations? Real leaders take personal accountability and step to the front of the line when there is difficult work to be done.
- Do I enjoy developing leadership in others? Organizations today need leadership at all levels. The most effective leaders identify and cultivate leadership capacity in others. They look for ways to stretch and grow others, and they recognize that they are stronger when they are surrounded by a strong team.
- Do I have the humility to lead? Leaders with huge egos create huge problems. As a leader, you need strong self-confidence, but you also need humility. Why? Because leadership is humbling. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re not going to get it right every single time. So you will need to commit to lifelong learning. You will need to be strong enough to accept your shortcomings and do something about them. If your ego can’t handle that, then you should opt out of leadership. You’ll save yourself and your colleagues a lot of unnecessary pain.
If you can’t honestly answer “yes” to these questions, you may not be ready to lead. That’s absolutely fine. The last thing your organization needs is another ambivalent leader.
If you do choose not to lead, find another way to continue to add value. As I mentioned in my last post, Steve Wozniak turned down a management position in the early days of Apple. He decided to remain in a technical area. For many people, that’s the best way to add value to an organization - to give your all to a position that draws on your true strengths.
On the other hand, if after answering those questions you still think you can lead, then get ready to roll up your sleeves. Commit to being the best leader you can, and to help your organization be the best it can. Good luck!