Skip to content

What it Takes to Be a Leader

Do you have what it takes to be a leader? That question haunted me as I grew into leadership roles. And if you ask that question too, you are not alone. It’s the nagging question you hear in the middle of the night when you start second-guessing yourself.

This post will focus on three areas that will help you feel better about your leadership told through the lens of both a mentor and a client. If you want to know more about how you can be a more confident leader, make sure to join this week’s Clear Path Leadercast.

Vision – Where Leadership Starts

If you desire to succeed and carry your team into the future, it is crucial to cast a vision for that future. One of my mentor/bosses was great at creating a compelling vision. Before I worked for him, he launched a vision for the company. When he told the story, you could tell how much faith and belief he had that not only would a new product be delivered to the market, he knew how success would look. He knew how much the customers would love the product and how it would change the market. And he knew how to make that vision a reality and then celebrate it with the customers and the team.

And that clarity of vision served him well throughout the time I worked for him. Twice I jumped into new ventures with him because of the compelling vision for the opportunity. Was the path always straight? No. Yet, as Good to Great points out, you can not lose faith that you will achieve the vision. And he never wavered in that belief. And through that positivity, he brought all of us along.

A Great Leader Builds a Great Team

The other excellent quality of my friend and leader? He knew how to surround himself with a great team. And he knew it well before Collins pointed it out in Good to Great. I may be biased because I was often part of that team. He always surrounded himself with great people in every instance I could think of. And he was able to find great people who complemented his skill set. As I watched him move on from role to role, he always brought some group of those people along with him. And it worked. He experienced success after success, even when he left our industry and went out independently. And because of his effectiveness in casting a clear vision, people were always willing to follow.

What it Takes to be a Leader – Effort

I recently had a conversation with a young leader facing what he perceived to be a failure. He leads a small team and has been incredibly diligent in being a servant leader to them. He is always honest and supportive. And he looks out for them, working to ensure they are treated reasonably. This weekend though, he felt like he failed. He had tried hard to protect them from a rather challenging assignment and “failed.” When I spoke with him, he was beating himself up over it. After we talked through it, it was clear he had done all that he could. And, when he could not get them what he had hoped for, he was honest about it with them.

When you fail, you need to look back and evaluate it. What did you do? What could you have done differently? And, did you do the best you could given the situation and information at hand?

After we analyzed the problem, it was clear that he had made his best effort for the team. And I shared with him that the team knew it. And to continue to beat himself up would make it harder for him to act in the future. As Mick Jagger told us, “you can’t always get what you want.”

I’ve been fortunate to work for such a great leader and to have the opportunity to lead. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be a leader through the process. If you would like to level up your leadership skills, let’s connect!