Tests are a part of life and are not unique to just leaders.
You go out everyday and other road users just push your buttons: the traffic lights change abruptly, the other driver cuts you off and even has the guts to swear at you, the passenger next to you on the bus/train just wouldn’t stop yapping at the top of his voice, the lady with the double buggy blocks the door way and is just chatting away mindlessly on the phone. You parent your kids and your sanity is sometimes dangling on a thread: there’s water on the floor of the kitchen and no one admits to doing it or attempts to clean it up, there’s wall art on your freshly painted wall and your three-year old happily drags you there to show you her creative design, your house smells really lovely and familiar only for you to get to your room and find your adorable son standing in front of your dressing table with now empty bottles of your perfumes and an apologetic look on his face. You work with colleagues and you wonder why everyone just has to get on your nerves: your team is lagging behind on the project, you’ve just been summoned because of a false allegation, you are constantly being micro managed as a team leader and it’s getting more and more frustrating. You reckon everyone else has got it in for you so you find a way to squeeze in that ‘me time’ for yourself; but even then, you find out that your own thoughts have it in for you too.
Ever so often our patience, character, identity, loyalty, etc., is tested. Because of who we are and the roles we occupy, we are constantly tested–consciously or unconsciously. These tests are real life scenarios that acts as indicators to our growth and development levels. They draw unmistakable lines between who we were, who we are and who we are becoming. They determine how genuine or adulterated we are in terms of our relationship with ourselves and with others.
Every leader’s presence, quality, ability, intelligence, skill, character, capacity and resilience will be tested before and during his/her existence as a leader. You’ll be constantly tested in 3 main areas at almost every point of your leadership journey and these areas are:
- Provision. Needs and wants are common features of demand and your position enables you to play a significant role in offering supply to these two features. Your tests in this area tend towards how you use your position to either get what you want or to supply what is needed. You need to realise that it is not just about satisfying your ‘appetite’, it’s mostly about sustaining your existence. Don’t be too hasty to get what you want at all cost, only for you to end up begging for what you need.
- Protection. The importance of your reputation as a leader cannot be over-emphasised. You do need to protect yourself but at what cost? and what exactly are you protecting and from what? Are you willing to bring someone else down in order to protect yourself? Do you constantly control everything just to drive home the point that you are in charge?
- Power. You’ve probably heard of such a term as : ‘power drunk’. Leaders are at risk especially of using their position to cripple others. With leadership comes authority and power no doubt; but not in the way it is sometimes used ( I explained power and authority in my book: Leadership Maxims…sound principles for leadership excellence). Your role is not a tool for tyranny or assault, neither is it a vehicle for the deception of others into blind and selfish submission.
Every now and again you’ll be tested in these 3 areas and what you discover will help you realise who you really are; whether you are an authentic leader or an adulterated leader.
Until next time, continue to;
Lead right and Live light