Do you have what it takes to be a leader? Do you possess the personal integrity, vision, planning, strength, and commitment that is a prerequisite for truly effective leadership? Many people believe they should be leaders, but are unwilling to do what is necessary, including undergo training and education, commit the time, energy and sacrifices that differentiates the few great leaders from the multitude that merely ascend to positions of leadership.
1. Integrity cannot be taught, but must be innate. Too many people are either afraid of exposing themselves either to ridicule or criticism by opening themselves up honestly, or simply prefer to “spin” or distort the facts to place themselves in the best light. A true leader cannot pick and choose his moments to have integrity, because personal integrity is truly an “all or none” scenario. Once a leader abandons his integrity even once, he surrenders his manifest to his constituents. Many in leadership have discovered that once they lose the trust of their followers, it can almost never be fully regained. A leader with integrity does not consider the political ramifications or popularity as motivating factors, but is rather guided by his belief in what is best for his organization. Obviously, no one is correct all the time, but one can have integrity all the time. Someone with integrity cannot sell out his beliefs for any reason. There is never a justification for a leader to be deceitful!
2. Do you have a vision for the organization that guides and motivates you towards action? In my over three decades of working with various leaders, I always ask them what their vision is, and what they wish to accomplish, and what their primary motivation for wanting to be a leader might be. I specifically ask them why they feel they are uniquely qualified to be a leader? Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, I receive simply rhetoric as the response, with things like “growing the organization,” “change,” “take it to the next step,” etc., stated, rather than non- rhetorical, sincere, and responsive answers. A leader’s vision must be specific and an effective leader should be able to explain his vision in the length of a sound- byte. Vision is a combination of what motivates someone to care, what (in actual terms) they feel the challenges that need addressing are and why, and what specifically they would do to bring about those changes, and what they “visualize” the organization as they would like to see it in the short term (under three years), intermediate term (three to seven years), and longer term (over seven years).
3. Do you have a plan? Do you know how to go about planning? Does your plan include both an Action Plan with responsibility table, as well as a time line?
4. Do you have the inner strength to be a leader? Effective leaders must be thick- skinned, and be able to accept criticism. They must have the inner fortitude to act, with the self- confidence to believe they have the ability and knowledge to be decisive. They must be more concerned with doing what’s right than simply appeasing others by doing what may be most popular.
5. Are you willing to commit to this position? Effective leadership almost always takes more time and effort, and imposes more of a toll, than most individuals anticipate. Will you make your duties in this position a priority for your term of office? The reason that volunteer leadership positions have finite terms is so an effective leader could specifically commit for that specific time span.
The question that most leaders are asked is if they would like to be a leader, and are they willing to serve. The question that unfortunately is not asked often enough is does the person deserve to be a leader!