It didn't take long to figure out the problem, but Elizabeth, a front-line manager and potential executive at a medium-sized company just couldn't see it. As she went on and on about the issues with her team and layering excuse after excuse about her work environment, I turned to her and asked her a simple question:
"Do you even want to lead?"
Her response pretty much gave her the answer that had been escaping her, "I have never thought about it, I just took the job because of the pay raise and I assumed it was the best next step in my career."
Turns out she isn't unlike many people in leadership positions in organizations. They take the position because of their mind and not their heart. While this isn't all bad, if professionals don't have a moment where they begin leading from the heart instead of just the mind, they will only ever be a manager instead of a leader.
These are a few simple signs to look for to determine if your heart is in the right place for leadership.
There is no doubt some of the best leaders of all time focus heavily on discipline-oriented things like; setting standards, allowing people to choose to meet or exceed those standards and creating a culture of accountability. But that's not all that's important in leadership. There also has to be a component of love. Something we define in the Welder Leader Assessment as; to contribute to someone's long-term success and well-being.
If you have great relationships with your people that are rooted in trust and caring about them, you are on your way.
No one is always right, but some people don't seem to ever be wrong. How many times have you spoken with someone who was definitely wrong, but know they would never admit it? In many cases, they might just keep digging a deeper hole.
If you are able or willing to admit when you make a mistake, it's a good sign your heart is in the right place for leadership because your ego has been set aside. Remember, people can handle the truth and are accepting of errors and mistakes because we are all human.
I have come to understand the easiest time to lead is when things are going well but the true measure of a leader is being able to lead in difficult or adverse situations. In fact, it's really when leadership is needed most. Author and Queens College professor, Will Sparks told me on the Follow My Lead Podcast, "when the heat is on, the shadow of a leader comes out and that means they often turn to thoughts, actions, or behaviors that are counterintuitive or unproductive."
But not you. You have worked hard to respond positively and with an optimistic attitude. The only way to do this comes from the heart.
It seems more than ever our culture is teaching us to focus on our own desires and what's in our best interest vs focusing on anyone else. But you have the ability to set aside your own interest and put the interests of others ahead of your own a large percentage of the time.
While I don't pretend this to be easy, there is a strategy I teach in the Ultimate Leadership Academy to help people focus on serving others. It's called the "PTS Method" which stands for "Prepare to Serve." Each time you change environments say to yourself "PTS."
Hopefully, you can see these signs in your own leadership journey. If you think you aren't doing your best in any of them, make a call from the heart and change your behavior.
John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College.