In a world where leadership is one of the most important roles to be undertaken, it is essential that employees and employers be realistic when it comes to appointing a leader. We are well past the days of starting work in the mail room and working your way up to CEO, winning the job purely because you have worked for the company for 20 years. To reach leadership status at any level, you need to be leadership material and unfortunately, not everybody is.
The only way to be a leader is to lead by example. If this isn’t happening at team level, then it isn’t likely to happen at CEO level without serious intervention and training. However, for some people, no amount of leadership training will be enough to help them become an effective leader.
If you resonate with any or all these descriptions below, then leadership is probably not your calling. If you are currently in a leadership role, it may be time for you to hang up your leadership badge and seek a different line of work:
- People irritate you. If you find you are someone with a short fuse and other people’s incompetence angers you, then leadership probably isn’t for you. Patience is a skill every leader must possess, especially when it comes to dealing with new team members, or with those who are struggling to get the job done. And let’s not even mention having to work with team members who are under stress or emotional pressure. Who has time to deal with that, right?
- You don’t have the skills. It’s tough to lead a team when you don’t understand the work the team does and how each job relates to the other, and you have no real interest in learning about them. A leader not only needs to lead but also needs to be able to step into a team member’s role at a moment’s notice, if need be. At the very least, if they can’t perform the role themselves, they need to know which of their team members to call on for help. If you have no interest in being part of “the team” at any time, then leadership isn’t for you.
- You aren’t confident. You have the qualifications for the job but you are not confident with people and don’t like being in charge. It used to often happen that people were promoted “beyond their level of competence” or into a position they would prefer not to hold. While it is less likely to happen t>hese days, it’s hard to turn down a promotion your boss is offering to you on a plate. If you are not confident or comfortable in a leadership position regardless of your qualifications, then you probably shouldn’t accept it unless you are willing to undergo training to support you as you develop leadership skills.
- You prefer to dictate. If leadership to you means telling people what to do, dictating how things should be done and not showing empathy and compassion, then leadership isn’t for you. You may manage work very well, but you can’t lead a team by dictating to them. Leadership takes someone with the skills to nurture their team, instil teamwork ethics and be open to ideas from all team members for the betterment of the work environment. You may be a great manager, but that’s a very different role to that of leader.
- You struggle to be visionary. You have the skills for the job but don’t like having to look forward and come up with ways to improve the team or the company. A leader needs to have a clear vision of where the team is heading and how to get them there. It isn’t enough to just step into the role as a leader and hope that it will all work out, and the team will pick up your slack to move forward. A great leader is one that can see the best in his/her team and holds a long-term vision for both the team and the company.
Ultimately, if you are considering taking on a leadership role talk to your team leader and you team mates about whether they feel you would make a great leader. Be prepared to hear both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ replies and accept the feedback as constructive. This is where you will learn much about yourself that you may not know.
While leadership involves skills and attitudes that can be learnt, not everyone is prepared to put in the effort to do so. If the idea of personal growth and sometimes a bit of a struggle is daunting to you, stay right where you are or, if you’re already in a leadership role, look at your other options.
Peter Drucker said, “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”
If you are unable or unwilling to lift your own vision to high sights, it’s better to leave the leadership role to someone who can.