If you are reading this, chances are you have an inkling toward leadership. Perhaps you are in a role where other’s acknowledge you as the captain of the proverbial ship. Or, like so many of my clients, you have a yearning in your soul to do great things in this world, but are plagued by a small and steady chorus of “I am not good enough.”
You are right to pause when asking the question “do I have what it takes to be a leader?”. It’s no joke. It takes energy, devotion, and a willingness to sublimate one’s ego in service of the betterment of others. Here are some reasons NOT to be a leader.
#1 It’s Scary
Leadership takes a willingness to put yourself out there for the world to see, and that includes when you screw up royally. Celebrations of success are awesome, but great leaders do not show up for the successes alone. Were that the case, some might argue that there would hardly be a point. In fact, true leadership often means directing credit to others when things go well, and then shouldering the blame when “it” hits the fan. To assume the role of a leader, one has to be OK with failing. A lot. And often.
#2 It’s About Other People
There is a major misconception about great leadership; it usually involves an element of glory, celebrity, and the appearance of ease. Additionally, management and leadership are frequently conflated, confusing task-mastering and micromanaging as leadership. In reality, the best leaders are those who approach their work with an attitude of service and employ skills of compassion, strategy, coaching, visioning, and nurturing relationships before they ever look at a ledger. It takes a tremendous presence of mind and a wholehearted commitment to cultivate and maintain those skills. If you are doing it right, management rarely comes into it.
#3 It Takes Self Reflection
Great leaders are also great thinkers. They protect their time, fill their calendars with reading as well as meetings, and commit to refine their skills and knowledge throughout their lifetime. Mediocre leaders jump in without thinking, work on the fly, and rely on wit more than wisdom. Great leaders are cultivated over time and with tremendous consciousness. One must be willing to look inward, come to terms with personal weaknesses and blind spots, and dig deep to get grounded in true purpose. That is where staying power lives. Flashy hot shots come and go - it is the great leader who knows themself, and owns it.
Now for the Good News
“The first step to becoming a great leader is to want to become one.” - Simon Sinek
How do you know you have what it takes to be a great leader? That is not a question that can be answered easily. But here’s why you are at the leading edge -- you show up. You want it. You see how you can make a difference in the world and in the lives of others, and you are passionate about being party to the rising tide that lifts all boats. You understand that it is not always easy, and you know that it takes commitment over the long term. You are willing to shine the light at the dark corners of you soul and face fear, judgement, and failure. You see the field and know that your role is to move the team forward.
In short, you are answering the call.
So there you have it. Leaders serve with courage, hold a vision, and take care of their people. Staying true to yourself takes focused determination, and can often feel like working in a vacuum. That’s where great coaching comes in.
Look me up if you are ready to make your world-changing dream fly. And GO FOR IT!
Merritt Minnemeyer is a 20-year veteran of leadership development and a 3x certified leadership coach, specializing in transformational leadership for social entrepreneurs. For more about Merritt, visit www.masterofonecoaching.com.
The first step to becoming a great leader is to want to become one.