Are You Ready to Be a Leader?
There are too many books on leadership, but the ones that are good can be really good. In that latter category is Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. I try to read it every few years.
In Chapter 5 Sanders offers a series of questions–a kind of leadership audit–for leaders and potential leaders. I’ve included some of the questions below and numbered them for ease of reference.
1. Have you ever broken yourself of a bad habit? To lead others, one must be master of oneself.
2. Do you retain control of yourself when things go wrong? The leader who loses self-control in testing circumstances forfeits respect and loses influence. He must be calm in crisis and resilient in adversity and disappointment.
3. Do you think independently? While using to the full the thought of others, the leader cannot afford to let others do his thinking or make his decisions for him.
4. Can you handle criticism objectively and remain unmoved under it? Do you turn it to good account? The humble man can derive benefit from petty and even malicious criticism.
5. Do you possess the ability to secure discipline without having to resort to a show of authority? True leadership is an internal quality of the spirit and requires no external show of force.
6. Have you qualified for the beatitude pronounced on the peacemaker? It is much easier to keep the peace than to make peace where it has been shattered. An important function in leadership is conciliation—the ability to discover common ground between opposing viewpoints and then induce both parties to accept it.
7. Can you induce people to do happily some legitimate thing that they would not normally wish to do?
8. Can you accept opposition to your viewpoint or decision without considering it a personal affront and reacting accordingly? Leaders must expect opposition and should not be offended by it.
9. Do you find it easy to make and keep friends? Your circle of loyal friends is an index of the quality and extent of your leadership.
10. Are you unduly dependent on the praise or approval of others? Can you hold a steady course in the face of disapproval and even temporary loss of confidence?
11. Do your subordinates appear at ease in your presence? A leader should give an impression of sympathetic understanding and friendliness that will put others at ease.
12. Are you really interested in people? In people of all types and all races? Or do you entertain respect of persons? Is there hidden racial prejudice? An antisocial person is unlikely to make a good leader.
13. Do you possess tact? Can you anticipate the likely effect of a statement before you make it?
14. Do you nurse resentments, or do you readily forgive injuries done to you?
15. Are you reasonably optimistic? Pessimism is no asset to a leader.
16. Do you welcome responsibility?
17. Do other people’s failures annoy us or challenge us?
18. Do you direct people or develop people?
19. Do you criticize or encourage?
20. Do you shun the problem person or seek him out?
What do you think? I find 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, and 20 particularly insightful questions. Actually, on second thought, they are all pretty insightful.