Are you ready to be the next leader? What will you use to help you set your direction?

I was sitting with a potential coaching client recently. We were discussing the opportunity that had arisen in her organisation where the CEO was retiring. Our discussion revolved around capability, competence and ability. Certainly there was evidence of abundance of all three, as well as loads of relevant experience and the support from key people, including directors. Yet there was hesitation.

As we explored this, it became clear that the perceived demands of the CEO role were creating a blockage. The long hours, the high profile and the requirement to get involved in ‘politics’ were not the selling points for this role. The current CEO managed to fit it all in and seemed to cope well, but could you?

Any big management and leadership role will make demands of you. For some this is part of the challenge and soon they play the game in the same way as those before, sacrificing everything for the role. For others, it is an opportunity to change things whilst still being authentic to themselves. In the end, the best leaders that we observe today are those who are true to themselves, who set their own rules for the game and play fair. It is all too evident to observe those who do this, and those who don’t.

For those that do, tapping into their own strengths and being themselves is more important than meeting all the qualities, criteria and competencies that most leadership books like to list. It is fundamentally about knowing yourself and being yourself. Knowing the answer to the question: Who are you?

I came across this interesting video with Bill George, author of True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership (J-B Warren Bennis Series) which sets out a great framework for discovering your true self and setting out your own direction. In this video he talks about how the life stories of various CEO’s have influenced their leadership style and their ‘true north’:

So what about your story? My potential client, intrigued by this, is having some coaching sessions to explore this…