When do you lead? How do you know when a moment calls for leadership? How do you know what leadership action to take in that moment? These seem like silly questions, but they might be the most important, least considered questions for leaders. If you’re a leader, it’s time for you to make these questions a part of your daily routine, as common as checking email.
Three things could happen when a moment calls for leadership:
You see the moment and you choose to lead.
You see the moment and you choose not to lead. Maybe you’re afraid, maybe you’re indifferent.
You do not see the moment, hence you cannot choose to lead.
If you consider that most “leadership moments” (those moments that call for leadership) are invisible, then you realize option one becomes even less likely to happen. There are a lot of reasons for these moments to be invisible. Here are a few:
Leaders aren’t present in the moment to see the need.
Moments are complex. There’s never just one thing going on and the signals calling for leadership can be lost in this complexity.
People hide their need for leadership because they want to appear fully capable and in control.
So many moments needing leadership are not being met with leadership. As a leader, you can change that by putting yourself in a position to notice. This means being present (more connection with the people you lead) and being open (requires curiosity, humility, and empathy).
When you do this consistently and deliberately, leadership moments will reveal themselves. Each recognized leadership moment then creates the fundamental leadership action question - do you step up to take action yourself or step back to make room for a team member to act? More on answering that question in a future post.