Are You Really Ready to be a Leader?

For many years you’ve desired to be a leader, so you’ve read countless books on leadership, networked with some of the best leaders and volunteered to take on projects to demonstrate your leadership skills. You think leadership is your destiny or it’s what you want to do because you love helping others. Whatever the reason, it’s important to understand your motivation because leadership isn’t a cakewalk. If you think it is, keep reading.

We’ve all experienced a few mediocre leaders and questioned how in the world they even made it to leadership. You know who they are;  the ones who can’t find a kind word to say about anything, relish in making people cry or don’t even know how to give praise for a job well done. Perhaps they sit in their office all day, oblivious to what is going on around them or regularly create chaos for everyone else to manage. Who knows how and why people like this are promoted, but they are, which is why it’s important you ask yourself one critical question so that you don’t become the type of leader we all despise.

Am I ready to be a leader?

Leadership isn’t a cakewalk and, unfortunately, all too many get into leadership thinking it’s just about coaching and developing or telling people what to do. Given the impact leaders have on the health of their teams, it’s important that you assess your readiness for leadership. Spend time reflecting on the following questions:

Who Am I? 

Do you know yourself and what makes you tick? What about those quirky behaviors you developed as a child to help you cope with some of the experiences of your childhood? What might those behaviors look like when you’re leading a team? Are you ready to embrace the idea that you may have some personal work to do to be a successful leader? Are you ready to do the work before becoming a leader?

Am I willing to take responsibility for the work of others?

Being a leader means taking full responsibility for a team of people. That means giving credit to the team for what goes well and taking responsibility for what doesn’t go well whether you directly contributed or not. Are you ready to stop deflecting and start accepting full responsibility for everything? Are you ready to give credit to the team without feeling you should get the credit?

Am I ready to lead people?

Being a leader means interacting with living, breathing creatures that have real feelings, desires, and goals. Are you open to leading and working with others who have different opinions, come from different socioeconomic/ethnic backgrounds, speak differently from you, etc.? Can you put yourself in people’s shoes to better understand their situation and needs? What about having to discuss the personal life of an employee, which is impacting their performance? Can you show empathy when an employee is in your office having an emotional breakdown? Can you put aside your feelings and have those crucial conversations when things aren’t going well, or issues need to be addressed?

Can you be a selfless leader?

Great leadership is about putting the team’s needs ahead of your own to facilitate their success. Are you ready to move boulders so the team can be successful? Can you take the heat when things don’t go well or go as planned? When necessary, can you keep up appearances to keep team morale high? Can you admit when you’re wrong? Can you accept and appreciate the fact that you might not be the smartest person in the room?

Answering these questions will help you decide whether you’re ready for leadership. It’s so important to ponder these questions today because if you wait until you’re in a leadership role, you may find that you aren’t entirely equipped to handle what’s coming your way. Why wait until you’re in a leadership position to begin developing yourself?  Do yourself and others a favor, do the work today so that you are prepared tomorrow.

So, are you ready?  Feel free to share your comments below.

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