In a recent article on Inc.com, Marcel Schwantes suggests 4 indications that you are leadership material:
- You have an innate desire to make people better at what they do.
- Your highest leadership priority is to develop trust.
- You rely on your instincts and gift of intuition.
- Your whole reason for working and doing business is to change lives.
I love lists like this because everyone can relate to them. Regardless of whether you want to be a leader or not, you’ve no doubt experienced leaders who had these qualities and probably leaders who don’t have them. The question I have to ask is whether the above characteristics are things you just have or things you can learn. What do you think?
In my experience, there are many leaders who are just born with these qualities. They are just natural leaders and it’s part of who they are and how they were raised. They can’t help but be a leader. That said, I’ve also known many leaders who have honed their leadership skills over time. Either option works.
The one item on the list that I wasn’t sure about was “You rely on your instincts and gift of intuition.” When I talk about this from a leadership standpoint, I see a more nuanced view in how I’d define this characteristic. Many who read this will probably think that instincts and intuition are just that gut reaction to a situation. While this is true, the best leaders I know have great instincts and intuition because they’ve become so educated and entrenched in a topic. Their “gut reaction” to situations is effective not because they’re acting out of some unique instinctive quality that only they possess. Instead, their instinctive reactions are effective because of all the work they put in before the crisis or moment of decision occurs.
Have you ever been in a situation like this? You know the right decision to make, but you’re not quite sure why it’s the right decision? People don’t know how to describe this so they say “my gut tells me” that they should do something. I like to think of this as a higher level thinking where the brain is processing all of the inputs you’ve given it before it can process the reasons why. Your brain is telling you the choice you need to make even though it hasn’t told you all the reasons why. Eventually, the brain finishes processing and you finally realize the whys as well.
What I’ve found is that this type of instinct and intuition is only as effective as the work I’ve done preparing myself for the situation. All of the learnings that I do are like raw materials that my brain can use to process through a situation. If I haven’t done the work beforehand, then I won’t get as good of a result. What do you think of this idea? Have you experienced this or do you see it a different way?
Leadership is a challenging thing and it’s not for everyone. In fact, that’s the really good thing since we can’t all be the leader. We can all lead, but we can’t all be the leader. Hopefully this list gives you some things to think about as you consider whether you want to be a leader or not.