It’s true. Some people are born leaders. They are born with the right aptitudes and behaviors that pave the way for leadership. They may have to work at it, but at least they have the right tools to develop their leadership style and abilities. Others (probably most of us) have to work harder to develop leadership abilities. But all of us, given the desire and the right opportunity, can serve in a leadership role. So how do you stack up as a leader? Below is a self-test you can take to help answer that question. If you’re brave enough, you can ask others . . . others who know you well and whose judgement you trust . . . to use this test to evaluate your leadership abilities. I should point out that there is no scientific basis for this test at all. I can’t tell what strong leaders typically score on it because none have ever taken it. These are attributes of great leaders that I have gleaned from some leadership books and articles as well as from my own experience. The expectation is, by rating yourself on each of them, you will uncover areas of your leadership style and abilities that you can improve upon. Please continue reading below, then score yourself at the end.
A boss has the position and authority to command compliance, but only a leader can inspire commitment.
Are you a boss or a leader? Contrary to popular belief, being a boss doesn’t necessarily make you a leader. Some bosses are good leaders, but others are not. Below we discuss some attributes commonly associated with good leadership. Please rate yourself on each at the end.
Character. Your character defines who you are. Do you have a system of values and beliefs that guide your behavior? Strong leaders do. Character begets trust which is the foundation of leadership.
Relationships. There isn’t much of importance that we accomplish all by ourselves. Usually we need the help and support of others. Good leaders are relationship-builders, not only with people in their own organizations, but with outsiders as well.
Knowledge. Leaders are life-long learners. They are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to learn or experience new things that will add to their leadership abilities. Leaders recognize that they develop themselves, not by quick fix events, but by a process of continuous self-improvement. Leadership is developed every day, not in a day.
Consistency. A leader must be consistent . . . consistent in his own demeanor, consistent in the way he interacts with others, consistent in the way he applies performance standards, and consistent in the way he upholds corporate values.
Emotional Quotient (EQ). Sometimes referred to as Emotional Intelligence, it’s the ability of a person to understand his or her own emotions and to make conscious choices about how to display and act on those emotions appropriately. But more important is the ability of a person to recognize emotions in others and to respond in a way that is fitting to the situation. Most students of leadership place a greater value on EQ than they do on IQ.
Vision. Leaders have a compelling vision, not just of where they’re going, but of how they’re going to get there. You might be a great guy in lots of other respects, but how can you expect anyone to follow you if you don’t know where you’re going?
Self-confidence. Not to be confused with arrogance, strong leaders are simply comfortable in their ability to lead . . . comfortable enough to say, “I don’t know” when they don’t, and comfortable enough to ask for advice or help when they need it.
Communication. Good leaders are good communicators. They’re not necessarily gifted writers or orators, but they find effective ways to get their message across. How else can you build relationships, demonstrate your knowledge, or describe your vision if you can’t communicate well?
It would be beyond ridiculous to say the above eight things completely define good leadership. They don’t. However, most of the leadership attributes we have chosen not to discuss here would likely fit in as sub-sets of these eight. And if you can rate yourself highly (and honestly) in each of these eight areas, you’re leading pretty darn well. If you can’t, then you have a road map guiding you to the area(s) you need to work on.
Please rank yourself on each of the eight below, using a scale of 0 to 10.
- Character _____
- Relationships _____
- Knowledge _____
- Consistency _____
- Emotional Quotient (EQ) _____
- Vision _____
- Self-confidence _____
- Communication _____