Today’s topic is an interesting question for a majority of the people in the business world. What exactly are the requirements for someone to become a leader? I’ll begin with the definition of the word leader. A leader is somebody that has responsibility for others, we can also use the terms leader and manager interchangeably.
"As a leader you need a solid understanding of the profession."
I hear this question often from many of my clients who are uncertain of their own abilities. One might say that different industries have different requirements for leadership. I disagree! In fact, my thesis is that the requirements of leadership are industry-independent. This is not to say, for example, that a police sergeant can jump into a grocery store and manage it! As a leader you need a solid understanding of the profession. There is only one profession in which someone that has no clue about a certain industry can end up as a leader; and that is politics! You see politicians jumping from one department to another all the time. Coming back to our earlier example, a person who is a good leader in the police department and the person who is a good leader in the grocery store do the same thing in the leadership aspect. I’ll also add that I believe leadership is an art and profession by itself. It this is something that you can learn and improve. Many people do not see it this way which is why it’s difficult for many to describe what makes a good or bad leader. The majority of HR departments cannot explain what successful leadership is!
"Unfortunately we often see promotion based on profession!"
This is why we see promotion based on profession, meaning the police officer or grocery sales person that performs the best becomes the manager, despite their job description changing dramatically. Now this manager must deal with the internal aspects of the company, not with clients he is accustomed to. He will need to manage schedules, resolve work conflicts, implement company policies and so on. The ability and the knowledge that you bring with you come into play, but there is more varied responsibility.
"If you hate people, don't become a leader!"
One of the main criteria you must fulfil to be a successful manager is that you must like people! I mentioned earlier that leadership is a skill and can be learned, but I am not sure someone can learn empathy. If you hate people, don’t become a leader. As you transition away from dealing with customers to dealing with your employees, remember that customers are temporary. Your employees are permanent. This means that your customers leave after you complete your job but you see your employees every day! Now a characteristic you can learn is self-confidence. All good leaders must have a self-confidence, but do not be arrogant and think you are the perfect leader. If you want to become a successful leader, then you need to get used to challenging yourself. Never top learning and improving!
Stay in lead!
OLAF KAPINSKI 🙂