The decision to become a leader should be considered carefully. So many people see a position and a title and believe it’s exactly what they want to do. The problem is, leading is so much more than telling people what to do.
In fact, if you want to know if you’re a leader, turn around. If nobody is following you, then by definition you’re not leading anyone. You see, we have become so confused with this term “leader.” For some reason we think being a leader is all about control, conquest and status.
If that is why you want to be a leader, you’re going to find yourself spending most of your time frustrated, upset and confused about why nothing is going the way you want it to. Leadership is not about you. I believe a leader’s job is to make his team successful, not the other way around.
Unfortunately, I know and coach so many “leaders” who don’t understand that concept. To them, they should be the one getting all the attention. But really, a leader should spend his time focused on the needs of his team. He makes them better and causes them to succeed. Then by default he succeeds as well.
Some questions you should ask before, or even now that you’re a leader:
- Do I like people? – If not, why do I want to be a leader? If you don’t get excited to work with your team and know their dreams, passions, fears and kids names, then why would you want to lead them?
- What are my strengths? – In Why You Must Discover Your Strengths I discuss why working in your strengths is vital. A huge mistake so many companies make is putting team members in leadership roles when they don’t belong there. A classic example is taking the top salesperson and making them sales team leader, because surely, if they can sell that well they can lead. Who said they could lead? If leading isn’t your strength, you’ll be miserable. Why spend one day doing something you’re not strong at instead of spending your life doing what you love?
- Do I have influence? – Quite often I am asked about the first steps of leading from people who have recently been put in a leadership role. The first rule of leadership is influence. As a leader, you must be able to influence your team. Without influence, who’s going to listen to you?
- What is my real reason? – Many young, high D-type people see leadership as a pinnacle. A ladder that must be climbed if they’re going to be somebody. If that’s you, then you need to reevaluate your reason for wanting to be in leadership. Leadership is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. The more people I hired, the more I felt the weight of their need to feed their families and put a roof over their heads. If that doesn’t enter your mind, then it’s all about you and not your team.
Am I trying to deter people from leadership? Well…yes! If you’re not called to it, then I think you should pass it up. The time you spend in leadership discovering that it’s not your strength could be some of the most stressful years…or weeks of your life.
Question: Have you ever seen someone in leadership who just didn’t belong there?