Are leaders born or made? This is a question that many individuals have asked themselves in their journey to identify or become effective leaders, and most come to the conclusion that the answer lies somewhere in the middle.
Julia Tang Peters, author of "Pivot Points: Five Decisions Every Successful Leader Must Make" (Wiley, 2014), believes that true leadership begins not with any inborn qualities or even formal training, but with a choice.
"Leading is not about personality traits, charisma or leadership style," she told Business News Daily. "It involves a decision to be a leader."
Once you've made the choice to lead, you must then ask yourself five important questions related to "pivot points" in your career. Tang Peters outlined each of these questions, and why it's so crucial to find the answers. [Simple Ways to Become a Better Leader]
What subject do I think is worth the amount of time and effort it requires to master? The first step in any career path is to discover what you're passionate about. You need to decide what you want to spend your time and energy mastering. This will establish a platform for your leadership journey.
What problem or condition do I want to solve or improve? This question should be asked once you're on the path to mastering your passion, but have a good enough feel for it to develop your own idea of where to take it. This usually involves solving or improving something about the current state of industry.
What barrier do I need to break through to achieve my real potential? After you've succeeded in solving the problem you wanted to address, you'll reach a "tipping point" where you'll need to break through a fundamental barrier to really take the lead. Figure out what this barrier is and how you can overcome it.
Do I want to continue on this path or try something different? You can go one of two directions after you've broken through your big barrier: Continue working toward goals related to your original passion and career path, or commit to a new goal that presents an exciting challenge to you. If you feel good about what you've done thus far and want to do something else, now is the time to do it. It's about defining your legacy and what you want to be known for over your lifetime career, Tang Peters said.
What legacy will I leave behind? If you've decided to move on to a new goal or chapter of your life, you need to map out a succession plan. A successful leader will have individuals in line to take his or her place and carry on the legacy.
"You've paved the way and prepared them," Tang Peters said. "Pass the torch intentionally."
Tang Peters noted that it's important for leaders to take a longer view of their career plan, but also remember that they won't have all the knowledge they need up-front.
"The key is to understand that it's a marathon," she said. "This is the long haul. This is good news, because then you can develop the skills you need and learn the lessons you need to learn in stages. You have opportunities to develop and grow. Take it one decision at a time."
Originally published on Business News Daily