Do You Have the Appetite to Lead?

Although research has demonstrated that leadership skills can be learned and one does not necessarily need to be born a leader, how important is the desire to lead? Does a CEO or a manager or a supervisor need to want to lead in a passionate way? If an individual enjoys the technical aspects of their job and has no dream to be a leader, should they be coached to do so? After working with all levels of management for many years, I believe that without the strong will to inspire and engage others, it is almost impossible to be a successful leader.

Becoming a leader takes great stamina and resiliency.  Before embarking on a leadership choice, managers must evaluate their strength, both physical and emotional, as well as their ability to be flexible.  Leadership is not for the faint of heart. With an ever- changing economic and political landscape, a leader must be able and willing to adjust their direction quickly. A leader can be evaluated on their speed alone and how long it may take them to put change into place.

In her book, A New Breed of Leader, Sheila Murray Bethel describes the importance of competent colleagues. She encourages leaders to have the inner strength to surround themselves with the best people available, not just those that resemble them or have their same views. She states that if a leader only consults with like-minded colleagues, they run the risk of cutting off vital information and expertise. I agree with her that it takes courage to hear things that challenge a leader’s beliefs or ideas. So do you have the stomach to hire people who may have experience that you don’t? Are you threatened by people who bring a vastly different background to your team? Can you remain open-minded to a strange, new idea?

In one bio-pharmaceutical company I consulted, I worked with a manager who was a scientist. He was adamant that the way he approached his project was not up for discussion with his team members. I asked him whether it was possible for an end result to be successful without following his exact procedures. He responded that it was possible but he still thought his way was best. I asked him to keep his eye on the final outcome and allow his team members to follow their processes. When we saw each other again, he thanked me for helping him to be more flexible. He did want to lead his team to success. He had the will. All he needed were the necessary leadership skills, which he was eager to master. He had the appetite to be a leader.

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