ARE LEADERS BORN OR MADE?
Sure, leadership can be taught, but can everyone be capable of being a true leader? True bigger picture leaders are happy to take calculated risks and then build an A Team around them to put in the work. Have you ever thought of yourself as a leader?
In my experience, and to be quite open and honest about this topic if I may, these are the signs you’re truly meant to lead from the front:
You lead only when you have to, not all the time.
We’ve all met that person who simply must take charge at all times. Whether it’s a strategic brainstorming session, a social gathering, or a family outing, they can’t help grabbing the lead dog position and clinging on to it for dear life.
Always opinionated, usually impatient and frequently brusque, these gotta-be-in-fronters get so used to other people describing them as natural born leaders that sooner or later, to their own and everyone else’s detriment, they begin to believe it.
The real truth is, they’re most always nothing of the sort. True leaders don’t presume that it’s their divine right to take charge every time two or more people get together. In fact it is the actual opposite. A GREAT leader will assess each situation on it’s merits as part of usual practice, and will only take charge when their position, the situation, or the needs of the moment demand it.
You see much more than you do.
True leaders understand the value of action, of course, but it isn’t their only tool. In fact, it isn’t even their primary tool. GREAT leaders see more than everyone else: answers, solutions, patterns, problems, opportunities, threats. They know it’s vitally important to do, but they also know that thinking, understanding, calculated risk mitigation and interpretation are equally important.
Listening is the most powerful form of education and understanding, and true leaders will sit back and listen, and quite often, be the last person to speak.
You change people. They achieve outcomes.
Executive A will hit his/her targets and burns out his/her team in the process.
Executive B will build and develop a great team, but they miss their target. So, which is the better leader?
It’s a false disunion, and truthfully, one that plagues many different organisations all of the time.
A true leader is in fact option C: someone who develops his or her team so that they can and do hit their targets, achieve their goals and remain engaged. If you’re fixated on outcomes to the extent that you manipulate and bully others to achieve those outcomes, then you aren’t leading at all, you’re dictating. This does not mean that leadership is being a doormat either. TRUE, classic leadership means building strong, capable teams that are high performing and goal orientated, and sustainable for the long game.
Here is my little list of 12 ways to know if you are a TRUE LEADER:
You truly set out to make a difference and add value.
You value relationships more than tasks.
You foster unity by bringing people together and encouraging dialogue.
You act with conviction, and take responsibility for problems.
You do not accept the “status quo” and ask – what could be?
You walk your talk both sincerely and intentionally.
You foster strong partnerships and you naturally bring people together.
You are a forever student. You read, listen to podcasts, commit to personal development (my personal favourite is YouTube right now) attend seminars, and align yourself with likeminded professionals.
You refuse to pass the blame for your circumstances and take FULL responsibility for finding solutions. Even if its not in your camp, you offer to assist (BIG picture thinking).
You accept that you do not have to be in charge to have significant influence.
And finally my personal favourite:
You’re not waiting on a bigger team, extra resources or extra funding to accomplish your vision.
Leadership is not about experience, education, or talent. It’s about the CHOOSING to lead. That’s where it all begins.