One of the most difficult decisions a leader must make is when someone on their team becomes ready to lead others. Even more difficult is detecting that in yourself. The ability to look inside and know you're ready to do something you've never done before is extremely difficult. Instead, this analysis is best done with the counsel of other experienced, effective leaders who know you well. Whether you are engaged in self-assessment or with the aid of a leader, below are four indicators that you might be ready to lead.
I say “might” because there are other factors to consider as well. These are situational factors that I can’t account for here. I’ve provided some examples after the list below, but the list is not exhaustive.
In no particular order, here are four indicators that you might be ready to lead.
You need to have a deep understanding of who you are including what makes you unique and how that can bring value to the team you are leading. You also need to be aware of the special abilities and gifts you have (often called strengths) that will empower your leadership. You also need to know your weaknesses and how to put up guardrails around them so that they do not undermine your leadership of others. You need to know your personal values and how they translate into right living. You need to know your unique purpose and how to orient your life around that.
You need to be able to read others. You need to be able to read their emotions and their subtle cues about thinking and feelings. You need to develop the ability to interpret what people say and do as clues to their thinking and feelings that they might not be aware of.
These two topics of self and other awareness above fall under the heading of emotional intelligence (which actually covers quite a bit more ground than what I have here).
Understand and Utilize VMV
VMV is shorthand for values, mission, and vision. In short, you need to first know your organization’s VMV. Second, you need to know how to effectively communicate the VMV to your team. Third, you need to know how to translate the VMV into strategies and decisions of leadership. (If you don’t see good examples of this in your organization, don’t be surprised. Most leaders are weak in this area.)
Probably the most difficult leadership quality to develop is humility. I know this is where I struggle most. A few leaders are blessed with an innate character quality of humility. However, the very act of leading often challenges their humbleness. Humility engenders trust, builds relationships, and encourages commitment among team members.
I noted above that this list of four indicators doesn’t cover everything. There are many factors unique to your situation that I can’t possibly anticipate. Here are some ideas to help you think about your particular context for leading. Enlist an effective leader to help you assess these and other relevant factors.
- Environment Does the organizational culture support your growth as a leader? What is the general culture of leadership like? Will other leaders support your leadership?
- A Partner Will you have a leadership mentor and/or coach at your disposal? Do you have a “go to” person committed to your success as a leader?
- Experience What experiences have you had in the organization (and outside) that have equipped you to lead? Important: Don’t confuse technical skills with leadership ability.
- Followers Who will your followers be? Who will be on your team? One of the most common mistakes of promoting others into leadership is not considering who it is that will be led. For example, if the followers are former peers, this often spells difficulty (not always, but often).
My lists above are not exhaustive, but they can help you start the process of assessing readiness to lead.
What would you add to the list? Let me know.
Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.