Are you ready to lead? It’s a great question and one I began to ponder after watching the recent Star Trek: Discovery season. In the episode, Captain Saru hands over command to Ensign Tilley. She doesn’t believe she’s ready to lead, and he tells her, “Part of leadership is the acknowledgment that one is suited for it.” Now, I may have already lost you with a Star Trek reference, but stay with me.
There is an idea that we have “born leaders” floating around out there. Worse, we identify people as born leaders for the worst reasons: pedigree, education, looks, or attitude.
I don’t buy it, and I never will. I believe all of us can lead. Leadership starts with mindset, vision, and humility.
You know you are suited for leadership when you can control your mindset. Self-awareness of where you are is a significant asset for leaders. There are three critical areas for you to focus on to build a leadership mindset.
Belief in the Goal
Leaders act from faith. The faith that there is a goal in front of us that is worth achieving. The belief is that there is a vision in front of us that we can accomplish when we pull the team together. And when we arrive at that destination, it will be better for us, our team, our clients, and our stakeholders.
Carry the Weight
One day, a friend told me that leaders can carry the weight of leadership better than others. And there is truth in that. We ask leaders to do so much. They cast the vision, and they bring their people along with them. Good leaders support their team, lift them when the effort is challenging, and carry the pain of setbacks and failure.
It takes a solid mindset to carry this burden. Wise leaders recognize this and surround themselves with the support they need to move the task, people, and business forward.
Leaders teach themselves to see the opportunities in front of them even when times are hard. They see failure as an opportunity to learn new lessons in how to be successful. Leaders teach themselves to look out into the future for the opportunities that will take them and their team to the next level. They know they need strong people around them to manage the day-to-day to focus on the future.
People suited for leadership find themselves able to see a clear vision for where they want to go. This vision is so clear that they can communicate it effectively and bring people along with them.
This matters as successful leaders realize that their teams can do more when they understand the vision for where the company is going. And they can accomplish even more when they know how their role aligns with the leader’s vision.
When creating your vision for your business, focus on the details. It’s not enough to say, “we are going to accomplish some goal.” A grand vision paints the picture of what that completed goal looks like. Can you quantify it with numbers around things like revenue, expense, and people? What can you do to show the impact of achieving your goal will be? How does it look for team members, customers, and their community
The more precise the vision you cast, the more aligned your team will be with it.
Great leaders check their egos at the door. A leader’s worst trait is a huge ego, believing they know the only way and having all the answers. It’s a sure-fire way to failure.
The hard part is that ego can work for you for a while. It will help you attract followers, and the instant confidence it gives you will allow for early victories. But it won’t last.
Eventually, ego becomes arrogance. Your belief that you know the answers stops you from asking questions and being curious about the answers. You end up lacking the necessary information to make good decisions.
And, that ego that was so attractive to your initial followers becomes insufferable. Your team realizes you don’t honestly care about them beyond what they can do for you. They come to know you see them as an easy to swap out piece because it’s all about them.
You are Ready to Lead
So let me bring this back to where I started. Why did Captain Saru know that Ensign Tilley was ready to lead?
First, he saw her humility. She’s brilliant but recognizes she doesn’t have all the answers.
Second, he saw her ability to cast a vision for the crew. She knew the mission she had to accomplish for Saru. She kept the team focused on that vision when the situation became increasingly complex, and faith ebbed.
Finally, he saw the strength of her mindset. Throughout her character arc, confidence has grown, her resolve strengthened. He knew she could carry the burden of leadership, see the opportunities in failure and never lose faith in her team.
Are you ready to lead? Are you in a position of leadership but struggling with some of the areas outlined in this post? Then let’s talk and see how you can become the leader you aspire to be!