MANILA, PHILIPPINES—A consultant once asked me what I mean when I say that certain positions can only be filled by a “leader.” Without thinking I said I expect a leader to do the following:
1. OWN IT. Good or bad, success or failure, if it happened on their watch, real leaders own it. Everyone gladly accepts the honor and rewards of success, but when things go south, non-leaders make excuses and pass the buck. Real leaders own the mistakes and failures of the whole team. No passing the buck. No blame-shifting. In other words, leaders take RESPONSIBILITY.
2. DO IT. Leaders don’t wait to be told what to do and how to do it. They just get it done. I am ok with leaders doing something wrong. I am not ok with leaders doing nothing. Doing nothing is not leadership. In other words, leaders take INITIATIVE.
3. UPGRADE IT. Great leaders know when to call an audible. Non-leaders keep running the same play, even when it stopped working three years ago. Leaders figure out how to upgrade and make it better. In other words, leaders embrace INNOVATION.
4. DO IT NOW. The past is gone. The future is not yet. The only reality we have is to work with is the present. Non-leaders live in the past or the future, always talking about the good ole days or only talking about future vision. Real leaders act now. They don’t wait. In other words, leaders live with a sense of URGENCY.
Whether you have an impressive title or now, here are four questions that reveal if you are a leader:
When things go wrong, do you take responsibility or pass the blame?
When action is required, do you take initiative or wait for someone else to lead?
When standards are not met, do you embrace innovation or maintain the status quo?
When opportunity knocks, do you lead with urgency or passivity?