How to Know If You're Ready for Leadership

I often get this question from aspiring leaders: “When will I know that I am ready to be a leader?”

This has always been an interesting question to me, and at 48-years-old my perspective around this question has changed over the years.

If you're finding yourself in a season or moment of asking yourself if you're ready for leadership, I challenge you to this: What is the root of this question?

Perhaps, you feel you've led projects, initiatives and business objectives and feel a leadership role would be the logical next step. Perhaps, you are simply knocking it out of the park and would enjoy the recognition and financial rewards that could come from perhaps getting a leadership role. Whatever the reason, for you, it is legitimate.

Early in my career, I asked this very question. Maybe fortunately or unfortunately, I asked the president of our company. Have you ever been in an environment when someone said, “ask me anything you would like to” AND you actually did? Maybe like me, right after you asked the question, you said to yourself “why did I just do that” That was me, however, once the question was asked, our president had a very succinct answer.

1. Work hard

2. Make your boss look really good

3. Never ask about your next promotion.

Imagine how I felt right after I asked the question? However, it turns out, this may have been one of the better questions I have asked, because it began to shape a different perspective about how to get promoted into leadership. The ability to put yourself in a position to be a leader is truly tied to your ability to be successful in the current role you have. Perhaps a twist on this is in the following observation.

Success is all about succession.

 Success in any role is best defined by a leaders ability to replace his or herself in one’s current role.

Perhaps in your current role looking at this question from a different point of view would be helpful. When you turn this question into how you might be helping the person under you or beside you get their next opportunity, it actually has the effect of getting you to where you want to be much faster than often expected.

Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A, was quoted saying, “give enough people what they want, and you will eventually get what you want”

What if your focus became developing your successor? What if you spent more time developing, teaching, and training those around you. You can start by simply asking those you work with a very simple question, “how can I help you get where you want to be?” You will be amazed at the conversations that will come from this simple question. Some of the responses you will hear, will be as simple as, “I don’t know how to balance this spreadsheet” to “I need help figuring out to move my project up through the chain of decision making”. Use your experience to help those around you will ultimate help you.

By helping people around you get what they want and I am confident you will be on your way to getting closer to what you want…..your opportunity to LEAD!