Before I started my business I worked a slew of jobs I really hated. They were demeaning, or boring, or simply going nowhere, which meant I was always on the look out for something new. One interview I went on was for a sales manager position at an RV sales business, just after I graduated from college. The interview literally lasted for hours and at its conclusion, the interviewer picked up her papers and said she had one last question; “Are you a leader?”
I remember thinking what an odd query it was, as the job the interview was being held for was considered a management job, so yes, obviously considered myself a leader. Apparently noticing the puzzled look that my face must have held, she added “I ask, because I am a worker bee, I prefer to take direction and let others make the decisions. We need someone who is not afraid to be in charge”. Until that day I had always assumed being a leader was in everyone, at least it was something everyone strove for. But after working for a while and seeing both good and bad managers I have learned it is truly not the commonplace .
A later job I held was at a family run clothing store in which any close relative of the owner got a management position. One would think it would be a giant love-fest, working with immediate family members all the time, but the truth was, they made it miserable. There were leaders there, 6 of them in fact- all holding the last name, but very few were truly comfortable being in charge. I, being one of the three non-related employees bared the grunt of the craziness and learned first hand what happens when an individual is in the wrong position. It was again shown that not everyone is a natural born leader.
So here is a funny question… how does one know if leadership is right for them?
In college I took a series of classes entitled “leadership in management 1,2,&3”. They were hippy dippy classes which didn’t believe in testing and where students sat in a circle and theorized resolution to potential work situations. But after the third class of the series I still didn’t think I was anymore prepared to head a business than before I started.
To help answer the question if leadership is for you, I have composed a series of questions that are meant to aid in the journey to professional self-discovery. I hope it gives you clarity, encouragement, and in the least, steers you in the right direction.
- When at the doctor, do you verify a diagnosis online before accepting it? Yes or No
- Do you consider yourself a leader? Yes or No
- If you were a Broadway star, would you find seeing your name in lights daunting? Yes or No
- You have recently taken on a vegan diet, but your friends wish to go to a non-meat free restaurant. Would put a hold on your diet to not cause a scene? Yes or No
- Do you make decisions quickly? Yes or No
- You are singing in a choir when your peer is singing off key? Would you feel inclined to tell them there are off pitch? Yes or No
- You would rather be adored than admired. Yes or No
- The most important part of being a leader is to give the people what they want. Do you agree? Yes or No
- Your significant other wants to get an animal that you know you are allergic to. You agree because you want to make him/her happy. Yes or No
- You are on jury duty, and selection for a foreman is starting. You do not volunteer because you don’t want to have to call the defendant guilty. Yes or No
- Do you encourage every member of your team to contribute to a cause? Yes or No
- Do you encourage others to follow you as a leader? Yes or No
- If you see a wrongdoing or injustice, do you often feel compelled to change the matter? Yes or No
- When working, can you juggle multiple projects at a time? Yes or No
- I dislike criticism and do not ask for it routinely. Yes or No
- When work piles up on your desk, you never would ask for another’s help to complete your tasks. Yes or No
- You find yourself alone in the office for a day. You diligently maintain the same schedule as if he or she were there? You or No
- You set high goals for yourself, and do not rest until they are completed. Yes or No
- You only feel accomplished when you receive high accolades for your work. Yes or No
- You thought of an inspired idea. You immediately go tell your superior about it. Yes or No
How did you do? If you have more yes answers than no’s, you may be more naturally inclined to lead than others. If not, do not worry! It means nothing bad. All that is meant is that you get to figure out a new way to achieve your goals. As Latin writer Publilius Syrus, once taught “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm”, once finding how you best work and truly defining what your aspirations are, the world will have no choice but to accept your new found power with open arms.
Now potentially armed with the first step to a better self-understanding, keep discovering and go after even your greatest ambition fearlessly.