The young interviewee sat in front of me and confidently answered questions about the open leadership position.
Since his career up to this point consisted of hourly positions, I asked him the “kicker” question.
“If you were offered this job, what are your plans to make the transition from peer to leader as smooth as possible?”
He almost shrugged and said, “nothing would change. I would keep interacting the same way with my colleagues.”
Chalking it up to naivety, I couched the question again in a description about the fact that taking on the title of a leader changes how others view and interact with you.
His response continued to be nonchalant, “I know I’ll be able to get a long with everyone regardless of what position I’m in.”
Big red flag.
His skill set told me he was capable to accomplish the tasks associated with the leadership position, but his attitude wasn’t ready to take on the foundation of leadership.
Leadership is about growing and supporting people, not simply gaining a title and completing bigger and harder tasks while being nice.
Leadership is like learning to ride a unicycle.
You have to get on it hundreds, maybe thousands, of times so your body can learn all of the ways a unicycle cannot be ridden.
Then one day, by process of deduction, your body will find the right way to ride a unicycle.
Authentic leaders make a lot of mistakes.
Not intentionally, of course, but they do.
Because they try.
And then they learn.
You’re not going to hit a home run every time. You’re not always going to get on base every time. In fact, sometimes you will strike out miserably.
Leadership is hard.
Leadership is messy.
Leadership is probably one of the most difficult roles to “get right.”
Authentic leaders learn to grow themselves in order to grow those around them.
This transition cannot happen without an open attitude and a willingness to get on the seemingly impossible unicycle of leadership and try yet again.
To be a successful leader, change must happen. Learning must happen. Growth must happen.
Once you learn what not to say, how to say things in the right order, and how to present a topic in a non-argumentative way (or whatever your particular mistakes might be), you’ll start to learn better how to do it right.
So, what mistakes are we going to learn from today?