by Sandra Finley
You are an emerging leader if:
1. You have to want it! The best leaders want the job. They know they need the lead job, because they know they need the power of it to do the things they care passionately about. They can’t be as effective from the sidelines, and they want the best chance they can get for success. That means they want first chair. Always.
2. You know that what happens to people is the most important outcome. Your focus on the bottom line has to be measured with what happens to your people. Without the ability to walk with kings — nor lose the common touch,” you will march your company and its people simply to the bottom.
3. You say “yes,” with enthusiasm when you’re asked to lead. A reluctant leader is a dangerous thing. If you feel someone else should be at the helm, use the power of your position to make sure that person gets a key position on high-profile initiatives. Then make sure to give credit where it is due. Your supporters will then have confidence in the new leader for future opportunities.
4. You see solutions that others don’t. This kind of “second sight” is an exceptional talent, and it indicates that you are ready to lead your own ideas. Look for and be willing to fight for opportunities to step up and put your ideas into practice.
5. You are willing to stand up for your boss by standing up to the boss. I believe that many of the CEOs on the ousted list were coddled by well-meaning subordinates who knew better but would not risk be challenging their bosses.
6. You are the go-to person in your family and community. A family that has invested in the maturation of a black MBA was supporting you for many years before you received your degree. They’ve been encouraging your leadership since your birth, and they deserve the benefits of your service as much or more as your employer. Step up with your management skills and help lead your family’s business… whether they want you to or not.
7. You see the long game. You are thirsty to understand how short-term activity will influence future outcomes and you have strong opinions about what those outcomes ought to be.
8. You know in your gut when you have made a mistake and you enlist the help of others to correct it. Everybody learns when a leader is growing. A chief lesson is how to change your mind and say just that. “I’ve changed my mind. Let’s look at other solutions.”
9. You see a vital role for yourself beyond the office of your job. Many leaders don’t reach their full maturity because they are not willing to move on. Don’t get stuck. Be bold. Look around to see where you’re needed, and where opportunity lies. Why not help take an existing nonprofit organization to the next level? Why not start your own organization to address problems you know need attention? Why not provide the world with a fresh, agile new initiative of your own?
Sandra Finley is President, CEO and chair of the board of the League of Black Women.