There are many different leadership styles out there. Some leaders are autocratic, others are more collaborative. There is no single style that suits every situation. Sometimes you need to give people the opportunity to lead before they will show you what type of leader they can be.
There is room for many different leaders within an organisation, and they aren’t all the result of formal promotions. Some leadership positions involve being in charge of a particular function within a team, rather than being “the boss”. Many teams grow in size until you need a greater number of leaders in different areas for them to perform effectively.
Sometimes assumptions are made about who is a leader and who is not.
“She doesn’t have the personality for it”
“He doesn’t like to direct people”
“They are too soft”
These are all statements I’ve heard about potential leaders who were never given the chance.
It’s important not to assume people are ineffective leaders just because they aren’t jumping up and down, stomping on other people’s throats to be the boss. Many people simply don’t work that way.
Don’t count them out without giving them a chance!
Giving opportunity to lead can reveal true leadership potential
There are people who may have great leadership potential lying dormant just beneath the surface. Not all of us are “go getters” who will put themselves forward above others in the team to get that leadership position.
Sometimes it is better to provide people with an opportunity to lead rather than to wait or expect them to come forward of their own accord. This is especially prevalent for the more introverted characters amongst us who are less likely to want to put themselves “out there” on display.
Giving opportunity to lead can reduce the problems with being the “tall poppy”
A social phenomenon exists in countries like Australia called the Tall Poppy Syndrome. The Tall Poppy Syndrome is a situation where high achievers will be “cut down” (criticised or ostracised) to bring them back to the same level as everyone else. The origins of this are thought to come from the colonial background of such countries where many of their earliest foreign inhabitants were convicts.
When you provide people with the opportunity to lead, rather than expecting them to jump up and take it themselves, you can reduce the effect of Tall Poppy Syndrome. This is because the leadership opportunity is bestowed upon them, rather than looking like they’ve stuck their head out above the pack by themselves.
If you let leaders bubble to the top of their own accord, you may be missing out. Some leaders are introverted and not at all comfortable being the tall poppy. Therefore, assuming that they’ll step forward and take it on independently can be flawed.
Giving the opportunity to lead can bring out different leadership styles
There are people who can easily be identified as the stereotypical leaders within a group. They like to take charge, make decisions and push things forward. Then there are others who may be more collaborative, more likely to facilitate a decision than to unilaterally decide.
Giving people the opportunity to lead can allow non-traditional leadership styles to come to the fore. Collaborative, facilitative introverted leaders can be extremely effective in some situations where the dominant leader may struggle.
Don’t squash the leadership potential of others before you give it a chance to be seen in action. Just by looking at somebody, you can’t tell if they can lead or not.
Sometimes you need to provide an environment where new leaders can emerge. This happens by providing the opportunity to lead, rather than expecting them to carve out the leadership position for themselves.
You might have some great leadership potential lying dormant within your team. And you will never know their true potential unless you give them a go. What are you waiting for?