We talk a lot about leadership here on the Volunteer U blog. We really love helping people step into healthy relationships with those they influence and be productive and effective. In fact, we even have a weekly podcast, Leadership U, all about how to make small changes to become a better leader. You should give it a listen!
But what we (and most other leadership lovers) don’t often talk about is that not everyone CAN or SHOULD be a leader. It’s not always a comfortable conversation. But the truth is that there are people who are suited to lead others and those who are not. In some situations, a particular person will not help move the team forward. Or they will not have what it takes to get the group to achieve their end goal.
Here’s our argument for why not every one should lead.
Some people don’t have the skills or traits necessary to be a good leader.
Yes, you can learn new skills. Yes, you can overcome personality weaknesses or personal fears. Some incredible leaders started on shaky ground and grew into notable influencers. But there’s another side to this story. You will run into people who, no matter how much they want to change (or you want them to change), are not suited for leadership roles. It is crucial to balance optimism with reality when working with team members and looking to help them grow as individuals. Can you help someone develop new skills and overcome weak points? Yes. Should you allow them to take charge of a team? Not always. Use good judgment and think about the results you need to accomplish. Even if you like someone, or they have seniority, a good sales record, or fill-in-the-blank, it doesn’t always translate to good leadership.
If everyone is a leader, who is following?
We can’t all be leaders. The math doesn’t add up. For someone to be a leader, there have to be followers. And knowing how to be a good follower is just as important as good leadership skills. Society tends to heroize leaders and make light of followers. But what makes leaders great is their ability to bring out the best in their team.