Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Natural, not easy.

Some argue that leaders are born; others contend that leaders are 'made'.  In my experience it is a bit of both.  Individuals must have the innate characteristics of leadership and those are 'born'.  The person must also have the necessary skill sets for the role and those are 'made'. 

The blend of character and skill will certainly vary from person to person and from job to job.  Some roles will require a generalist; others will look for a specialist.  Some positions will require more experience; some will achieve results with a much less.  Clearly the significance of the leadership role in the organization has the greatest impact on the mix and the requirements.

Regardless of the level of leadership that one holds, for the person to be successful, the mantel of leadership must feel natural. By 'natural' I mean that the individual recognizes the legitimacy of their role and the sufficiency of their character and skills to fulfil that role. 

It does not imply that the individual will not have doubts or that they may not fail in some aspects of their performance.  But it does mean that the individual has the necessary self confidence that is required to exercise the skills and qualities to meet the daily challenges.  This self confidence is neither arrogant nor boastful.  This self confidence is natural.

While inspirational leaders find their roles to be a natural expression of their skills and character, make no mistake, their work is not easy.  It is not always easy to accept responsibility for the performance of a team.  It is not always easy seeing the glass half full after several disappointments.  It is not always easy being vulnerable and open, when others can use that against you.  And it really is not easy to acknowledge that you may not be the right person to lead when circumstances have changed and your skill sets do not match the need.

Authentic leadership - inspirational leadership - comes at a price.  If you recognize the natural inclination to lead, look for opportunities to demonstrate your abilities.  Be aware, it won't be easy...but you won't find contentment until you try.

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