Do you want to become a leader ? Are you already a leader? Read on an discover what we believe it takes to become a leader irrespectively of field, geography, culture or age.
A lot of people want to become a leader. This article is about why you most likely will fail to become a leader. The article is also about what you can do yourself to change that situation. But you will probably find it is much harder than you anticipated.
The difference between a Leader and a ManagerThere are many different definitions of leaders and managers. The one we use in Gugin is very simple. A manager is appointed by his or her boss while e leader is appointed by his or her followers. So the manager title is one that is ascribed to you while the leadership is one you have earned because a group of people trust you to lead them in a particular direction. That means that becoming a manager is easy while becoming a leader is extremely difficult. If you want to become a leader you should also know that it is associated with a lot of risks while the acknowledgement you will get might be very limited if not totally absent – at least as long as you are alive. So why is it that so many people want to become a leader? Inc Magazine has written a number of articles on this subject and you can read one of them here. In this article, I will focus on why you don’t succeed in becoming a leader. The article is based on the hundreds of leadership workshops I have facilitated over the years almost all over the world. The aspiration is not enough – it might actually be your biggest obstacle. Below are our findings for why you will not become a leader. All of them might not apply to you but one or more will like do. So afterwards you should think about first if you really want to become a leader and second how you are going to change so that your aspiration of becoming a leader can become reality. Our coaches can help you through the change process. Get in touch here so you can learn more about how we will make that happen.
1. You will not become a leader because you don’t trust your instinctsPeople will look at you as a leader if you can see things they can’t see; if you can come up with solutions they didn’t even think of. Think about the people who have changed the world. Think about people like Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Napoleon Bonaparte, Julius Caesar and many many more. Did they go to business school taking leadership classes? Did they apply for manager jobs? No, they didn’t. They had a passion for change – good or bad, and they believed they could achieve their goals through persistence, courage, creativity and instincts. Have you ever been wanting to do something no one else in your social group has done before? If yes, then you are probably familiar with the common reaction that some people will give you 100 reasons why you won’t succeed. If you don’t have a very strong instinct for that you are going to do the right thing you will never get it done. If you want to become a leader you have to put common sense aside with all the warnings your surroundings will give you and move in the direction your instincts tell you to move. Can you do that?
2. You will not become a leader because becoming a leader is your objectivePeople will choose you as a leader because you can take them somewhere they can’t go on their own. They might not have the skills, the courage, the creativity or the time. So they choose you as a leader. They choose a leader out of pure egoistic reasons. They don’t care about you, they only care about themselves. They only reason they care about you is that you can get them where they want. If they can see or feel that your main objective is to become a leader they will choose someone else – wouldn’t you do the same thing? If you have to pass through a minefield and you have no clue where the mines are who will you choose to lead you? 1. The minesweeper who put his own life at risk by leading you through the minefield or 2. The person who will draw you a map showing where you can walk? If you are not entirely focused on the objective and goal of your cause you will never be considered a leader.
3. You will not become a leader because you have a low level of integrityRemember; You cannot decide to become a leader. You are chosen by the people who need you as a leader. When they do that they look not only for your particular skills needed to lead them. They also judge whether or not you are a trustworthy person with a high level of integrity. By that I mean do you put your actions where your mouth is. Do you mean what you say, do you do what you say and do you do what you do because it is the right thing to do. Unfortunately, a number (a lot actually) of business “leaders” think they can separate their personality from their job. They cannot despite they claim they can. We also have different perceptions of what a good leader is depending on the culture we are in but everywhere a good leader goes all in with skills, personality, courage, experience, creativity, fears and love. If you still want to become a leader you need a way to find out if you have a high level of integrity. A simple way to find out is asking yourself: Would I do this for free or if there were no recognition associated with it? If the answer is yes, then you might have it, but if the answer is no or maybe you certainly don’t have it.
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4. You will not become a leader because you have insufficient life experienceWhen a group of people choose you to become their leader you take on a huge responsibility. They have chosen you because they believe they are better off following you than anyone else around. It doesn’t mean you are 100% certain about everything. They have chosen you because they have a fear of doing it on their own. But you probably have a fear too. But you cannot tell anyone. If you haven’t been in a situation before where you had to hide your own fears in order to make your followers more comfortable you will probably not be very good at it. you can’t share your fear with your followers. That will make them paralysed. You can talk about the risk associated with what you are going to go through together. But you will have to keep your fear to yourself. Many years ago after a trip to the rainforest in Brasil, I got a lot of worms in my body – and they grew larger. I didn’t feel anything until a couple of weeks later where I was rushed to the hospital. When I was on the table and the doctors were going to put me to sleep the last thing I head from one of the doctors before falling asleep was, “I can’t do this”. When I woke up I was terrified. I had to go through a number of surgeries to get them all out, but that was done at a different hospital. You need life experience in order to deal with other people’s fear if you want to become a leader. You followers will read your body language as an open book so you need life experience to feel comfortable dealing with other people’s fear, uncertainty and anxiety.
5. You will not become a leader because you have too much educationYou might consider that a pretty controversial statement, but you can’t educate yourself to become a leader. You can educate yourself to become a manager but not a leader. Business schools throughout the world do however think that leadership sound more prestigious and attractive than management so they have leadership education instead of management education. There is an ongoing discussion about whether leaders are born or they have learned to become leaders. Here is what I think – and I might, of course, be wrong. I think we are all leaders but it all depends on the context. If you in a building where a fire breaks out don’t expect all the MBA’s and other people with leadership certificates to take responsibility for evacuating the building. The people who have less fear than the rest, people with life experience from a similar situation, people who care about others before themselves will step forward and take responsibility for evacuating the building. They are the true leaders. Is it something they are born with or something they have learned? If it is something they have learned they didn’t learn it in a business school. In Gugin we organise survival trips to the Borneo rainforest for management teams. These teams usually have a well-established hierarchy. But when they are far out of their comfort zone in a dark rainforest with sounds they have never heard before, they are all terrified. But some more than others. Like in the example above you can’t expect the CEO to lead the rest far away from his or her comfort zone. Other members of the team will step forward and take the lead. That experience revitalises a leadership team completely. You can read more about the trips here
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