7 questions to tell if you're leadership material

Is it possible to tell, before you accept a promotion, if you're cut out for leadership material? Executive leadership coach John M McKee says, "Yes it is." In this article he provides 7 questions to ask yourself before you take that new job.

Dear Coach John,

Is it possible to know -- before I make the decision -- if I'd enjoy being a leader? I think my boss is about to ask me to take over a team in another department. I never thought this would happen to me, and while I'm excited about the idea, I'm also worried that I may not be cut out for this kind of role. Any advice?

Signed, Barry in Buffalo

Congratulations for this opportunity, Barry. And I salute you for giving serious thought about this issue before you take the job offer. While it may never be possible for anyone to know 100% before making an important decision; here are a few questions I noodle with clients when they're considering a promotion.

If any of these hit home for you personally, the chances are that you may not be cut out to be the head honcho:

1. Do you like to be liked? Great leaders do what needs to be done, even if that means telling team members to do things that are going to disappoint or make them cranky. If this makes your palms sweat, don't accept the job. 2. Do you value democratic styles of management with decisions made by consensus? If so, a leadership role may cause you acid indigestion. All groups, sooner or later, will want their boss to "act like one." And your own boss is going to expect you to stand up and make tough decisions. Do you really want to change your core values for this job? 3. Do tough conversations cause you to lose sleep? Sooner or later every leader has to deal with issues or hassles affecting one or more team members. Personal appearances, annual reviews, and things like changes in company policy can be tough for anyone, but if you know you often lose sleep over direct confrontations or difficult situations, then being the boss is not a good fit for you. 4. Do you understand that the definition of middle management means being stuck between the big boss and the team? The ones on the organization chart who are above will have expectations, so will the ones below you. Both groups will be demanding and never give you enough credit for your past accomplishments. How does that feel to you? 5. Does your stomach turn over before you have to stand up and talk in meetings? How do you feel about having a verbal duel with someone else in front of a group? If you choke up when asked to state your opinion publicly, then you probably don't want to be in leadership. 6. Do you accept that too much empathy might be a bad thing? If that doesn't make any sense, you are probably a wonderful human being but destined to be a challenged leader. Sooner or later, all leaders have to say and/or do things that aren't nice, are unfair, and are not reasonable.

Finally -- and this may be the single biggest deal breaker of all --

7. Is "balance" an important part of your life? Most leaders will admit that their personal life is often put behind their professional one. If you won't or can't accept that there will probably be occasions where the job impacts the other sides of your life, then you're likely to get tripped up.

Here's to Your Future.


By John McKee

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...