A woman in a leadership seminar I was teaching in Denver asked, ‘Can I be a leader?’ Great question.
Are leaders born? Are they made? Generally speaking, leadership is a skill. That’s good news because it means leadership is open to anyone who’s willing to put the work into developing the skills of a leader. Being willing is a good start but it won’t automatically make you a good leader. Start by assessing your personality to find out what you have to work with.
There are four main personality types and leaders can have any one of them as their primary style. I’ll share with you what I shared with her. She can be a leader (in fact, she already is), but she would need to be aware of which traits of her style could get in her way.
Leaders with Steadiness as their primary style are gifted as listeners and being empathetic. They tend to be in tune to the feelings of others and value harmony on the team. They dislike conflict and avoid it all costs.
These are the things a leader with this primary style needs to be aware of:
Basis for Decision-Making
A leader with Steadiness should be cautious about making decisions based on feelings rather than facts. This isn’t good for business. Business decisions should be based on facts. For example, setting job standards for productivity is an important part of the manager’s job. They need to know capacity and output to have a well-run department. If they have an employee who doesn’t feel like they can work as hard as is required to do the job, the leader might not hold them accountable. This will quickly create a resentment in the other team members who have to pick up the slack.
Being Taken Advantage Of
Some people will take advantage of a leader who values harmony and push back on their decisions knowing that the leader will cave in to keep the peace. This is a mistake. It creates a confusing environment which leads to chaos and low morale very quickly. The rest of the team can see that the leader isn’t actually the one in charge, it’s the person who pushes back the hardest. As much as it may go against their nature, this leader must stay strong when making decisions. Be cautious about being too participative as well. Sometimes this type of leader will involve the team too much in order to not have to make the decisions.
Doing the Employee’s Work
Another trap for the easy-going leader who wants to avoid conflict is taking on the work of the employee. They don’t give the employee work direction because they don’t want to come across as bossy. Or, they accept reverse delegation because they have a hard time saying no. In either case, doing the work that someone who gets paid less to do isn’t good from a fiscal perspective. Plus, the leader ends up working way too many hours.
The woman in my seminar was running into all of these challenges and it was creating stress. Stress turned into self-doubt about her capabilities. Not only that, she was working way too many hours because she was taking on her team’s work. Plus, avoiding-conflict is time-consuming. Just because she was avoiding it doesn’t mean she wasn’t thinking about it. I assured that she can be a great leader as long she is aware of falling into these potential traps and she practices assertive communication.
Don’t know what your personality style is? Connect with me and I’ll set you up with an assessment.
Liz Uram works with leaders to get better results through clear communication.