Is leadership for you?
The most important thing to figure out is whether you will like the kind of work you will be doing. Being a positional leader means having responsibility for the performance of a group. That’s different work from anything else you’ve done.
If you like the work, you’re more likely to be happy and successful. If you don’t, every day will be a struggle. That’s important because, in most organizations, if you choose to be “promoted” there’s no going back.
These three questions aren’t about skills. We can teach you skills. What we can’t teach you is aptitude and mindset.
Do you like helping other people succeed?
That’s what leaders should do. If you like doing it, you’re more likely to enjoy a leadership role and to be successful in it. If you don’t enjoy it, being a leader will be hard and frustrating for you.
There’s a bonus, too. You’re evaluated based on the performance of the group. Their success is your success, so helping the team and team members succeed is good for you, too.
Are you willing to talk to people about their performance or behavior?
If you’re responsible for the performance of a group, it’s your job to make sure that everyone is pulling their weight. If they’re not, you need to talk to them about the situation and then work out a solution.
These conversations can be hard, but they’re easier and more likely to end well if you have the conversation as soon as you notice an issue. If the thought of talking to someone about poor performance paralyzes you, you will probably wait until you screw up your courage. By then the conversation may be harder. The longer you wait, the harder it will get.
If you’re willing to talk to others about performance and behavior, you can learn how to increase the odds of a successful outcome. Otherwise, the work of a leader will be very hard for you.
Are you willing to make a decision and live with it?
If you’re responsible for the performance of a group, a lot of bucks stop with you. If you have trouble making decisions, every decision will make your job uncomfortable. If you’re willing to make the decisions appropriate for your job, you can learn how to make better decisions, but you can’t learn to be willing to decide.
Why these questions matter
If you’re responsible for the performance of a group, these questions are about the work, the things you have to do every day. Forget about the salary and the benefits and the prestige and the perks. If you enjoy the work, you’ve got a shot at being a great leader.