Usually, a situation, perhaps a crisis, demands a leader to merge. In the banking crises of the last 2 week, the FDIC, the Fed, and the President, all who have designated roles, emerged to address the situation. Top bank leaders emerged to back up First Republic (albeit with the deposits that fled to them from First Republic and other regional banks).
We see leaders emerge in other crises, especially natural disasters like the earthquake in Ecuador, and the series of atmospheric rivers hitting California. We also see elected leaders step up in ways we never could have expected like President Zelensky of Ukraine. Who could have imagined that an actor who played the role of the President on television could actually be such an amazing leader in real life – in one of the most difficult situations we’ve seen in the 21st century?
In order to step in during a crisis or step up when needed, potential leaders have prepared their whole life, whether they know it or not. One of my favorite leadership quotes is “the person who most accurately describes reality without laying blame, emerges as the natural leader, whether designated or not.” * Leaders typically have specific skill sets like good analytical thinking, clear communication, dependability, drive and confidence. Really good leaders have done the deep work – they know themselves – what they are good at and where they do just okay.
If you observe your team that is coming up, you may find that the people who want to lead may seek out opportunities if they aren’t getting them at work — in their community, their church, hobbies they love. You may have untapped leaders in your organization that with a little encouragement can bring that potential skill into the light.
When does a leader emerge? When the crisis arises or when people who are paying attention pull them onto the stage.
*Attributed to Susan Scott paraphrasing Edwin Friedman
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