This past week, I came across a question that asked, “Do you need to be good at something to lead team?” I thought this was an intriguing question because it really caused me to think. It was actually written in a list of possible interview questions for those preparing for an interview. The challenge in this question was the word, “good”.
While I believe that leadership requires competency, I also believe that one does not need to be the best at something in order to lead. A leader needs enough knowledge and skill to be able to have an informed conversation with team members about the task at hand and the goal they are working towards as a team. But most importantly is the leader’s ability to be able to recognize the core competencies and abilities of the different people that make up the team.
A leader’s responsibility is to cast the vision, chart the course, align the people, motivate them, challenge them, and inspire them towards the goal. A leader must be sure to have the right people, working on the right things at the different stages of the journey. Part of this involves recognizing who is best at managing the processes and making sure the team is working as a well oiled machine. When morale is low, it is the leader’s responsibility to stir up the passion by clarifying the vision, aligning and inspiring the people.
That said, every leader must also recognize where his or her own strengths are in the midst of the team, and be committed to developing it. In the same vein, a leader ought to know a little bit about everything in order to have the right conversations and ensure that the team members are on the same page. A member of the team may be applying his or her effort on a certain project which might be great in an of itself, and producing great results, but if it does not fit into the picture of the vision there is misalignment. A leader who does not have the basic knowledge about such a team member’s skills will not be able to recognize the misfit, more so how to communicate the proper fix.
If you have been shying away from leadership because you feel like you’re not “good enough”, then I think you’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. Your commitment as a leader is to grow yourself and to grow other people. What you really need for leadership is the skill to identify potential and cultivate it; whether it be potential within yourself or potential in the lives of other people.
What are your thoughts?