The unknown often scares us.
Not knowing what lies ahead in a darkened room even though it’s your own house.
Turning a sharp curve in a blinding snow.
Getting off the Tri-Rail when the stop doesn’t look familiar.
Stepping into the front doors of a new job for the first time.
Walking up to the school room door for the first time as a child.
There are countless circumstances that cause many of us to pause, proceed with caution, and in some cases just flat out refuse to move forward. And for some, the circumstances of leadership can be a BIG hurdle to overcome. You see, leadership is tricky. On one hand it is the bright light of a future to be, the hope of a dream fulfilled, the significance that you’ve always longed for, and the opportunity to take control of a circumstance and make a difference in the world the way that you have felt called. Leadership is the bright light of what could be but, like I said earlier, leadership is tricky.
The unknowns of stepping into a leadership role are immeasurable. For instance: What are the key things that must get done that I know little or nothing about? How will the people respond to me as their new leader? Will they follow me? How will I go about making decisions concerning things that I have never even thought of before? What will we do if things don’t go well? How will I manage the extra time constraints that I now will be faced with? What is my vision for this new role that I am taking over? How will my relationships change now that I am moving from being another one of the guys to being the key leader? And so on and so on.
These questions and hundreds of others like them have made leadership a scary door to walk through for so many potential leaders. Many of you will be faced with the opportunity of leadership. What are the questions or concerns that might prove dark and scary to you? Do you have a plan for how you get answers for the tough questions or the tough moments that you will face? If not, can I encourage you to create a plan?
Just for fun consider thinking through this exercise.
First, think of a role you have in life where you currently serve, work, or function under someone that is considered your boss, leader, supervisor, coach, etc.
Second, think through and create a list of the differences between your role and the role of that person providing direct leadership over you. Think about the different expectations and responsibilities, the time commitment difference, the relationships that must be managed, the administrative duties, the problems and problem people to manage, the budget and financial burdens.
At every level within every organization there are significant differences within
the various leadership levels and all of these need to be taken into account
when walking through the next open door of leadership.
Third, now that you have your list of differences begin thinking through and create a parallel list of where you will get the training, help, coaching, and support to grow as a leader in these various areas of leadership if you were to step in to the role of leadership that is currently directly ahead of you.
Don’t ever think that you do not have a need for leadership development? Trust me you need it. And never think that the organization or company that you currently work with will provide all of the training that you will need. Take ownership for your own personal development as a leader.
The opportunity to walk through the door of leadership will find itself right in front of you at some point. When it does, will you be ready to step through it? There is no reason why you have to wait for your employer, boss, coach, or direct leader to come up with the idea that you might be a good candidate for an open leadership position. If you will walk through the three simple steps that I listed above and then go about systematically learning how to lead in the various areas that make up the difference between you and the leadership role that is directly ahead of you then I guarantee that the door of leadership will seem a lot less scary when the opportunity comes. I also guarantee that the opportunity to lead will come a lot sooner than you think if you are putting this type of intentionality and hard work into growing as a leader.
Leadership is tricky and really kind of scary a lot of days but it most certainly is a fear worth facing. Walk into the darkness!
On Mission Together
Craig Ratliff UnbrokenResolve.com