What one word would you use to describe yourself as a leader?
First saw this posed as a question on a LinkedIn discussion some months ago and my immediate and instantaneous reaction was ‘reluctant’ – I only step out in front or step forward to ‘take charge’ when I see/think it is absolutely necessary. Rightly or wrongly I am generally happy to stay in the background, but this got me thinking, ‘how many other reluctant leaders are there out there in the workplace? How many others are choosing to step into the limelight only when they really see the need? Indeed what would it take for them to fully emerge as the leaders they are?’
What would it take for you to take the lead?
One example that I can think of for myself is related to the nursery my daughter attended when we still lived in London. Over a period of time it became apparent that all was not well and that a coordinated intervention from ‘parents’ was needed. This particular ship was not going to be allowed to sink and so I decided to ‘step forward’ and lead. I remember the surge of energy and focus that came with being at the front of this particular campaign, but I also remember the relief of being able to ‘melt’ back into the ‘shadows’ once the crisis had passed.
I also wonder about un-awakened leaders who are perhaps not consciously reluctant, but maybe not fully awakened to their potential as leaders. Perhaps they have not yet been exposed to a situation that tests their leadership and whets their appetite for it.
So what do I notice about myself and the situation that impels me to step forward, albeit reluctantly?
It must be said that I experience a certain feeling of impatience, it seems to me (clearly just my perception) that the way forward is obvious, there is only so much sharing and discussion that is needed before a decision has to be made and some action taken. I become aware that I am biting back my words, holding myself in (not necessarily a bad thing) as I listen to what others have to say about the situation.
To me the implications of not taking action quickly and decisively are fairly obvious and I can get into task centred mode, (this does fit with my ‘thinking’ preference from Myers Briggs) as I perceive the problem and possible solutions to it. I get a little buzz of energy as I step out and start to assert my position and perhaps my approach is more useful when the problems are more ‘black and white’ with clearly defined options and parameters.
I know I step forward when certain values or principles are under attack or threat of attack, again this ties in with my Myers Briggs type, I stand on principles (possibly a bit inflexibly at times) but those are the things that will bring out the leader in me. Things like double standards a lack of integrity or the feeling that the catastrophe lurking around the corner can be avoided.
So what kind of leader are you and what would it take for you to step forward?