Do you have what it takes to be a leader?
Trying to define the success criteria for effective leadership is challenging. It is virtually impossible to identify a singular trait to adequately capture the successful leadership experience or define its complexities. There are entire sections in bookstores devoted to this subject.
People are often promoted into leadership roles due to their “technical” expertise or because they have performed well in other roles (that may or may not have required leadership ability). Yet technical expertise doesn’t necessarily equate to successful leadership capability. Before automatically saying yes to that new promotion that will thrust you into the role of “leader,” consider doing an honest and accurate assessment on your leadership potential.
Here are a few questions and core competencies to help you gauge if you “have the right stuff.”
- Initiative. Do you readily seize opportunities to develop and contribute? Do you eagerly volunteer for additional responsibility? The most successful leaders share a common attitude — they do whatever it takes. The best leaders do not shy away from challenge or accountability. They are conscientious, dedicated and take pride in delivering results.
- Interpersonal skills. Do you enjoy working with people (really)? Do others enjoy working with you? Relating well with others is essential, as well as being able to adapt to many different types of people and personalities. Bullies, control freaks and manipulators (people who don’t play well with others) usually fail at leadership because most people won’t follow them.
- Inspiring others. Can you inspire and motivate? The best leaders create an environment where people want to contribute and do their best. This is the “heart” of leadership. Successful leaders inspire others to get on board with their ideas and vision. This requires an ability to communicate clearly and with passion.
- Emotional intelligence. Are you moody and reactive when stressed? Can you have empathy for others when in conflict or disagreement? Emotional intelligence is dealing effectively with your emotions and the emotions of others. Understanding your primary reaction tendency (and modifying it when required) is important to leading effectively under stressful conditions.
- Self-awareness. Are you aware of your strengths and challenges? Do you know how your actions (or inactions) affect others? Do you admit your mistakes and learn from them? Do you seek feedback to improve yourself? Self-awareness is looking in the mirror. It’s understanding how our behaviors (and their consequences) hinder or help us meet our leadership goals.
- Decisiveness. Can you confidently make difficult decisions? Leaders need to make good decisions even under duress in a timely manner. Good decision-making is often a blend of understanding success criteria, analysis, consultation, wisdom, experience and judgment.
- Adaptability. Are you resistant to change? Today’s fast-paced and dynamic marketplace requires the ability to refocus, change direction and adapt to changing conditions. Leaders today can’t survive with a rigid attitude. Equally important for today’s leaders — being able to manage change effectively.
- Personal integrity. Are you trustworthy? Can you handle difficult situations with integrity? Are you a role model for what you ask from others — in other words, can you lead by example? The best leaders are transparent, straightforward and earn the trust and respect of their people.
From my viewpoint, anyone taking on the role of leader needs to be focused on self-awareness and self-development. I remind clients and students that leadership skill training can’t replace who you are and what you stand for. At best, leadership training is a supplement to your core gifts, experience, wisdom, values and judgment.
Working on you isn’t easy. For many, it will be the most difficult challenge of their professional career. It requires openness, vulnerability, risk-taking and courage. It takes accurate assessment, workplace challenges, experience and support to grow your leadership skills. Think of leadership as a lifelong journey versus a final destination.
As an executive coach, I help with leadership development. I Skype with clients all over the world and meet you where your challenges/opportunities lie. I will teach you methods, techniques and tools to help you take your leadership to the next level. Isn’t it time to invest in your future? Call me: 360 682 5807 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org