It is one of the most debated questions amongst business owners, community groups, and associations. There is no exact answer, but there are a lot of opinions and there are a lot of questions surrounding this topic.
Are leaders made or born? Is there a “ladder” one must climb to reach the top and if so, does each rung need to be touched? Are there those who just show up, participate in activities and deserve to be the leader because of tenure or can one be recognized for achievement, ability and knowhow and be placed into a leadership role ahead of others who have “played” the game?
One of the best characteristics of a leader is charisma. Are people attracted to and want to learn from an individual because of how they carry themselves? When they enter a room do they command respect and recognition from others? Do people seek them out and ask their opinion both privately and publicly? Are they confident and approach others easily and vice versa? Are they warm and welcoming? Do they smile easily and genuinely? Do they express empathy and convey understanding? Do they dress and play the part of a leader? If so, this person is on their way to leadership.
Do they have a rolodex of other leaders? Do they know the owners of other companies that are not only local but national in scope? Do they have the ear of these professionals because of the respect they earned on the streets? Are they actively involved in their business as an owner who has been through tough times and pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and in turn inspired others to do the same or did they just go through the motions and accept what others told them to do? If so, this person is on the way to leadership.
Do they accept and embrace change and look for another way of approaching how things are done? Do they do the same thing others have done because that’s the way it has always been done and always should be done or do they break the mold? Are they satisfied with the status quo or are they looking for ways to build a better mouse trap or continuously improve upon systems and processes? Are they able to analyze situations to know when to say when and forge a new path or direction and have others follow them in the new direction? Are they quick to adapt to different situations calmly yet quickly? If so, they are on their way to leadership.
Are they able to communicate well with others across multiple platforms as well as across generations? Do they know how to “speak” with people on their level and motivate them to accomplish more than they would have had they not met this person? Is their communication concise, responsive and consistent? Are they comfortable speaking one on one as well as in front of groups publicly? Are they often asked to participate in events, conferences or outings because of their ability to communicate with others and how they are perceived? If so, they are on their way to leadership.
Do they accept accountability and encourage others to be held accountable? Do they expect the best from themselves and motivate others to expect the best from themselves? Do they praise publicly, early and often? Do they correct others privately and help set a corrective course of action for improvement in performance? If so, this person is on their way to leadership.
Are their time management skills in place? Do they have the ability to juggle many balls while accomplishing them all well? Can they delegate well to others and get the most out of them so that the job is done properly, every time? Do they allocate the appropriate amount of time for others and empower them do the same? If so, they are on their way to leadership.
Are they actively involved in all aspects of their business? Do they attend conferences, seminars and trainings both locally and nationally? Are they often asked to be a speaker at these events? Are they involved in their association and have they been involved with it on multiple levels? Do they have several revenue streams within their business which gives them a broader perspective on the business or is their approach to the business more narrowly focused? Are they considered to be great networkers? If these qualities are possessed by someone, they are on the path to leadership.
Are they able to clearly state their vision? Is their vision clear and concise? Is it one that inspires others to follow and want to be a part of as well? Is part of their vision and mission to refer easily and be open to receiving referrals as well? Do they share their knowledge, skills and abilities with others freely and openly? If so, leadership is in this person’s future.
Obviously, it is difficult to find someone who possesses all of these qualities and this person should be embraced and accepted into leadership without reservation. In addition, others may possess some or many of these characteristics but not all and should be given consideration for lesser leadership roles until they develop the qualities necessary for leadership positions. Get it? Got it? Good!
Now, go lead someone!