We continuously walk this fine line between manager and leader. Often the two roles are confused, not only by the people you are responsible for but also by the people in those roles. Not everyone can be or should be a leader. Some people in leadership roles don’t even want to be in the role. Simply wanting to be a leader doesn’t give you the critical attributes of being a leader such as character, skills or courage.
If you aren’t recognized as a leader by those you report to or who report to you then you aren’t a leader. Yet if you feel you are leader then you are either not looking at yourself objectively or your leaders don’t recognize your talent.
What does it take to get to the top of that elusive corporate ladder? There are countless philosophies on leadership many of which have the same themes woven throughout their strategies. You are not trying to home-brew beer here. All of your experiences have shaped you and subsequently the style of leader that you will be. Unfortunately what we see with some people who want to get ahead is that they have little desire to help others get ahead.
I keep hoping that at some point I will stop being surprised that some people are in leadership roles that shouldn’t be. Or, that these same people who are in these roles are the ones telling others how to be better leaders. It is, however, a truly wonderful experience when you see someone in a leadership position that makes positive changes and shows growth in their leadership abilities. I have been lucky enough to witness this multiple times through my career.
Below are some things that would indicate you are not a leader, if you are doing any of these things stop immediately and make some changes.
Results elude you
Leaders get the job done and usually over perform. If you aren’t getting results you are leading. Getting your people to a place where they want to work hard for you because they want you to succeed will help ensure you can deliver the results.
Your results are obtained through abuse of power
If your tactics to improve results are based on manipulation, poor treatment of your staff or games you will no doubt win in the short-term but in the long-term it could destroy you career. Leaders aren’t jerks, leaders are people you want to follow and are often magnets that attract people.
It doesn’t matter to you
Indifference and leadership is like oil and water. If you don’t care about your people you cannot lead them. The best way to measure your success as a leader is to ask yourself if the people you are leading are better off being led by you than if they had been led by someone else.
The title means more than the purpose
When you value what benefits you will receive you aren’t concerned with the service you are supposed to provide to others. Leadership is about helping others get to a better place and often means you are out of the limelight. While power and privilege come with leadership it isn’t what drives them.
All talk and now show
All talk and not show is the opposite of what leaders do. Anyone can sit around and develop a plan but executing the plan to completion is how leaders determine their success.
You hold people back
Being a great leader is about helping people reach goals they didn’t know they were capable of. Being a leader is helping people reach the next level and go beyond the place they are right now. For me, there is nothing greater than helping people under me to advance up the ladder.
Your golden rule is “this is how it’s always been done”
“This is how it’s always been done” is the enemy of leader. Just like good is the enemy of great. Identifying the need for change and then delivering it is one of the greatest traits of being a leader. This is what I like about hiring new people into an organization, they bring fresh new ideas and perspectives. Help them sell their ideas to others around the organization.
You burn and churn talent
Being a leader means you are someone people want to follow. People will usually leave a job because they don’t like their direct supervisor but will often stay in a job they don’t like if they like their direct supervisor. If you can’t keep or develop people then you aren’t a leader.
Taking credit starts with I
Leaders don’t use “I” they don’t seek being in the limelight. Instead they put others in the limelight. For me when something goes well I will say “we” or “they”. When something goes wrong then I say “I”.
The process is above all else
Without people what would the process be for? Putting things above people would indicate you aren’t a leader. Leaders are for the people.
Being a leader requires constant self-reflection and introspection. If you are continuously doing that and keeping the above items in mind you are sure to become a great leader.
More Actionable Advice:
Latest posts by Jason Cortel (see all)
- A Better Way to Have a Difficult Conversation - June 13, 2015
- Add These Tips from Grandma to Your Leadership Tool Kit - May 30, 2015
- Tuesday Tip: Start the Day with Clarity - May 26, 2015