Do you have leadership potential? Are you a leader or a follower? The way that people talk about leadership, you’d think it was all about you.
Sure, there are some traits that you should develop to be a better leader and, sure, experience and education help. The truth is, however, leadership isn’t all about you.
By definition, a leader works with a group of other people, and leadership is very much about them. You also came into your leadership position in a very specific context to do a very specific thing. Who you work with, who you work for, and what you are working towards are all aspects of leadership that you might not be able to change.
There are lots of good resources about how you can develop into a better leader, but in this article, we are going to talk about the external aspects of leadership.
You are a leader within the context of a company that has its own history. Technology is changing the ways that many businesses do things, and it’s making it easier for new businesses to spring up. As a result, you might be the first person to have held your position at your company. In this case, people are going to expect things from you, and those expectations will likely impact your leadership style.
On the other hand, most people who come to occupy leadership positions are promoted into positions that were previously held by someone else. Your predecessor’s style of leadership, and success or failure in that position, may give you a boost as you take over, or it may serve as an obstacle that you will need to overcome as you put your own name on the desk.
As was mentioned in the introduction, being a leader means that you won’t be working in isolation, you will have a team. That team will have their own quirks, their own strengths, and their own weaknesses.
Many of the strengths of a good leader involve getting the most out of your team by inspiring them, by helping them to work together, and by orchestrating them so that their strengths have the most possible impact on the team, while their weaknesses have the least impact. However, your control over who you have on your team may be very limited.
There are many different leadership styles and many different leadership positions. The two don’t often fit together – at least, not at first.
Depending on what task you are given for you and your team to achieve, you might not be able to be the kind of leader that you always wanted to be.
Sometimes the leadership style that you prefer, or are used to, doesn’t fit the current objective and you will have to tweak your approach a little to make it work. Whatever your preferred approach is, be sure to tweak it rather than abandon it. The best leaders are leaders that are confident in their own abilities and their own direction, and trying to make yourself into something that you aren’t will never work.
Being a good leader requires great personal strength, and you will find that you can make certain aspects of your leadership position entirely your own. Unfortunately, however, society views leadership as an entirely personal venture.
To be the best possible leader, you will need to develop your personal strengths, but you will also need to consider all of the factors that you are going to be dealing with that are larger than yourself.
As you approach a leadership position, be sure to know the history of that position in the company, the people that you will be working with, and what exactly will be expected of you. After that, consider finding ways to situate yourself within this environment. Only then will your personal strengths be able to shine.