Leadership potential is not neatly defined. It’s not one personality type or any magic combination of thinking and behavioral preferences.
The fact is…anyone is capable of being an effective leader – the key is being able to unlock potential through self-realization.
My friend Jackie is a perfect example. She is a dominant Conceptual and Social thinker, with only very slight tendencies for Structure. She readily admits that she forgets to turn the lights off when she leaves the room. She loads the dishwasher and adds the detergent, but never pushes the start button. She washes the clothes, but never quite gets around to drying. She doesn’t tighten lids, seal bags or close doors, either.
But these domestic quirks don’t mean Jackie is incapable of making hard decisions, meeting budgets and closing deals at work. She shoulders a great deal of responsibility as a hospital CEO, and uses her awareness of her own thinking and behavioral tendencies to better lead her organization.
Here is the self-awareness I’m talking about. She knows what needs to be done and she knows herself well enough to lead through her strengths.
Jackie spends the bulk of her time using her Conceptual and Social preferences to devise long-term strategy and cultivate the often-complicated relationships with physicians and hospital leadership. She loves this part of the job and is able to be herself when doing this.
She varies her Expressiveness (which tends to be outgoing and talkative) based on circumstances for each relationship—she’s a master at realizing that leadership is about making others comfortable to contribute.
She also knows her limited Structural approach in such a detail-oriented business requires attention. So, she actively builds structure into her days by meeting regularly with key leaders—because of this, she has a firm grasp on the direction her hospital needs to go. She uses this element of structure to be aware of progress. This allows her to feel comfortable and her employees to feel empowered.
Finally, Jackie deliberately surrounds herself with capable people and is able to delegate key responsibilities to those who are as comfortable implementing as she is devising. When building her leadership team, she realized that another Jackie was not in the best interest of the organization. Instead, she has a full complement of diverse thinkers. Her COO for example, is an Analytical type with a demonstrated work history of developing successful processes and getting things done.
Maybe you know Jackie. Maybe you are Jackie or even the anti-Jackie. But clearly, effective leadership can and does come from anywhere.
Knowing yourself and your tendencies is a key first step to unlocking your leadership ability.