While watching a movie recently I was impressed by a short scene that offered some very good perspective on the qualifications for leadership. A senior officer gave a revealing assessment of someone under his command that was bright, talented, smart, courageous, and probably better than anyone else on the team. The subordinate was anxious to step into the driver’s seat and to take the lead role, feeling they could do a better job of leading and offer a better chance at a successful mission.
The senior officer offered this important advice: “Leadership isn’t about ability, it’s about responsibility. You are so good at what you do, you haven’t lost anything yet. Until you have lost, you cannot be a good leader.”
There is a lot of truth to these words. The best leaders are often not the most talented or most accomplished people in the room. They are people who have been willing to take the right calculated risks to benefit the team they are leading. And, even when their actions or decisions prove to be wrong, they willingly and easily assume full responsibility for themselves and the failure of their team.
Often, the best indication as to how well you will lead others can be seen in how well you lead yourself. Leadership is most important and perhaps the hardest to come by during times of defeat and blame. If you’re able to lead yourself through a bad decision, take responsibility for your actions and keep moving forward in the process, you’ve proven the greatest leadership ability of all – leading yourself.