Leadership: What Someone CAN Do Versus What They WANT To Do

Leadership is powerful. It is gripping. It is influential. It is impactful.

But it can’t be any of those things unless it is harnessed and refined.

And leadership is not only about refining the best in oneself, but seeking out, and tapping into, the best in others.

Most often, an organization might overlook the leadership potential in its members because it doesn’t seem as if some have the potential to lead, influence, or make an impact.

“We, as leaders, can’t deal in the obvious; we need to dig deeper so that other will do the same.”

The problem with that thinking is that, oftentimes, without digging deeper and surveying a person’s drive, what you see on the outside isn’t really indicative of how they can provide value from the inside.

When it might be brought to a leader’s attention that someone had leadership traits that went untapped, a common response can be “How was I supposed to know? I didn’t know that they could lead. I didn’t see it in their actions.”

Unfortunately for these leaders, there’s a difference between when a person CAN lead and when a person WANTS to lead. The challenge for a leader who is truly and proactively scouting, finding, and encouraging leadership in others is finding that sweet spot where “can” meets “wants” in leadership ability. How might you go about seeking out a person’s capability for leadership (the “can”) while simultaneously tapping into their drive to do so (the “want”)?

For instance, do you remember your attitude when you were in their shoes? At some point, earlier in your career, might you have wished your abilities were more utilized at some point by your bosses or leaders at the time — that someone would have asked you more questions about what you wanted to contribute aside from solely what the job description stated?

Related Post: On Your Way Up Through Your Career, Keep Reflecting On Your Past.

Sometimes, what you see is not what you would get.  People sometimes need to be driven or encouraged to act and to lead. Admittedly, this is a responsibility that goes both ways – the leadership should provide the environment and the guidance for encouraging leadership, while those being lead need to proactively demonstrate and showcase — with as much capacity as they feel comfortable with — their leadership capability. Anything else might convey complacency and acceptance of the status quo.

“…without digging deeper and surveying a person’s drive, what you see on the outside isn’t really indicative of how they can serve from the inside.”

In order for all to avoid an environment of complacency, valuable leadership attributes come out when a person wants to lead. In these types of situations, they are driven and inspired by the flexibility and encouragement available in their environment.

That’s why when seeing people across different activities, one might witness varying levels of leadership exhibited. It all depends on what drives the person and gives them energy at certain moments in time and across different environments.

You need to make sure you understand their drivers before they leave and provide that value to another leader, boss, or employer.

Related Post: Are You Their Leader Or Are You Their Leader…For Today?

But everything is a lesson learned. When employers are caught off-guard that someone does have leadership skills in a certain part of their life or in another environment, they need to ask, “What else could have been provided in their work environment to tap into that drive?”

Work isn’t perfect; it can’t tap into everything that makes a person more driven and ambitious, but a question to ask is whether or not that workplace has tried different scenarios with its individual workers to determine what it is that might drive someone to lead or perform exceptionally.

“Leadership is about resourcefulness – tapping into all the tools at our disposal. Some are obvious while others are not.”

This process can begin much sooner than might be expected. Leaders in different arenas can begin to consider the paths available when vetting or interviewing people to possibly bring into the fold.

Leadership is about resourcefulness – tapping into all the tools at our disposal. Some of these resources are obvious while others are not; this includes people and their abilities.

When it comes to overall environment growth and development, people are a powerful tool to utilize. But we need to go beyond what’s explicitly expressed to determine if there is more behind what we see.

We, as leaders, can’t deal in the obvious; we need to dig deeper so that others will do the same.

We need to seek out those who could possibly stand out and provide the environment, tools, and support for them to want to stand out.

So…What About You?

  • How do you learn about others and what they might be able to provide?
  • If you’ve had process to do this, what is it? Has it evolved?
  • How did things change after you dug deeper to reach a person’s true ability and drivers?

Podcast – Coach It Out Quickshots, Episode 6 – Covers This Blog Post

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