I am a leader, just not in the office!

May 19, 2020

Leadership is an action that people witness throughout their entire life. It begins the moment we are born by observing doctors, parents, caretakers and continues on through teachers, governing bodies, employers and so forth. We are continuously exposed to numerous examples of leadership which influences everyone differently.

It is a common observation that people display varying degrees of leadership qualities. Many experts write that leadership is a learned trait or skill. Others argue that some individuals are predisposed to having greater amounts of leadership qualities. A debate over whom is correct is a conversation for another day.

However, it is safe to say that environments are a dominant factor in the degree of leadership qualities a person displays. A common example includes individuals that are the CEO of their household but when at work fade away amongst peers. At home these individuals display leadership qualities such as; resilience, emotional intelligence, passion, communication, delegation, positivity, loyalty, decisiveness, confidence, vision, problem solving, perspective, motivation, empathy, influence, and so many more. The members of their household look to them for comfort, guidance, and direction. These individuals are their pillars.

Oddly though, when removed from the household and observed in a job environment, these individuals shed or hide leadership qualities and assume the role of the follower. In many cases this behavior persists even though authority figures such as management are requesting they take on leadership roles. One might guess that these individuals possess some sort of mental block preventing them from unlocking the leadership qualities they routinely perform in the household.

What drives this behavior? How can a person overcome their leadership challenges?

As previously mentioned, a number of experts hypothesize that people are either born with or without leadership traits. They suggest this population is distributed across a bell curve with the vast majority of people falling into the potential to learn and grow range.

A logical assumption is that individuals, such as our household CEO, possess the required traits but lack the ability to expand beyond comfortable environments. A leadership role in a household is typically absent of challenges from adversaries or competitors. There is also a high level of confidence fueled by an absolute understanding of all operations to a degree higher than anyone else in the household. This comprehensive knowledge serves as the foundation for the safe environment.

In contrast these individuals may not feel confident, informed, or able to withstand challenges at their place of work. Work settings by nature are competitive. Businesses are not democracies nor always meritocracies. These complex environments promote competition amongst their workforce to identify members that will further the success of the company. Competition by definition is to defeat or establish superiority over others. Challenges from peers and the like is ingrained within the culture.

Company management amplifies the negative pressure on these individual further suppressing the emergence of leadership qualities. Asserting oneself as a leader within the hierarchy of a company requires a measured level of planning and execution. Anxiety and fear are natural emotions associated with stepping outside a comfort zone. Taking a position in contrast to leadership or having a decision declared inaccurate or inappropriate would be embarrassing and diminish credibility. The risks associated with such actions can easily be viewed as not worth the benefits.

What should a person do to expand their leadership qualities beyond comfortable environments?

Another hypothesis experts suggest is that individuals whom desire to grow as leaders need to become more enlightened about themselves. Individuals, such as the household CEO, have already demonstrated leadership qualities; therefore introspection is necessary to analyze the emotional and tangible differences associated with environments. Self-awareness along with the acceptance of honest feedback are integral components to acquiring the necessary data to perform this analysis.

Individuals must be honest with themselves. They need to accept what their fears are. Who intimidates them and why. What intimidates them and why. What the perceived risk of failure is. What their goals are. Why success is important and an evaluation of their current leadership qualities across different environments. These are only a few of the types of questions that must be answered. Finding these answers is not a solo journey. Trusted confidants must be identified. Solicited and unsolicited feedback must be received without defensiveness.

The next step is execution. Individuals must find the courage to step outside their comfort zone and take action. They must accept the risk of failure and learn to perform in an uncomfortable space. Taking this step is not easy and should be terrifying for most. One positive notion to hold on to is the successes demonstrated throughout other parts of their life.

Thank you for reading.

About the Author: My name is Ion King and I am the Chief Officer at Corsair's Ventures. My focus is on helping others passionate about growing careers in Data Science & Analytics achieve their goals. Connect with me on LinkedIn or find more of my articles on medium

Images: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

This article is a reflection of my opinion with additional information gathered from the sources referenced below:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2012/11/21/are-leaders-born-or-made/#720e6bc948d5

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kimberlyfries/2018/02/08/8-essential-qualities-that-define-great-leadership/#68f1f553b633

https://transparency.kununu.com/compelling-qualities-of-great-leaders/

https://www.adamenfroy.com/leadership-qualities

https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/leadership-skills

Begin your analytic journey today
Sign up free on the TradeCraft homepage
Join free today