The Inadequate Leader

If anyone is following you, then you are a leader.

Some of us are natural leaders. Our personality and character attracted others who willingly followed us even as a child.

Some of us are reluctant leaders. We have been pushed into positions that we were not looking for. Maybe we were just a little more qualified than others, or the only one who said yes. But all of us are “inadequate leaders”.

Inadequate leaders are those who recognize that they don’t have all the answers, or all the skills needed for their position.

Many leaders lack experience. You only get experience by doing something. That means there is always a first time, a time when you have no experience, but you lead anyway. You may have experience in similar situations or in a similar role with less responsibility, but all of us at some point will be moving beyond the experience we have. If you never get to that place, then you are never growing as a leader. Maybe you are okay with that, but you still had to do something for the first time to even get to the level you are at.

If you lack experience, that means you may be inadequate for the task. So, what can you do? If you are an analytical person, you can try to come up with a perfect way to move even if you haven’t been in that situation before. You could ask for advice from others who have experience where you are lacking. Invite them to speak into your situation, and even though their experience isn’t yours, find some ideas to try in your own case. Gather your team and invite them to collaborate with you to find the right way ahead, and build on the experience you – and those around you – already have.

What if you realize you don’t have the skills you need to lead? Not only do you not have the experience to lead in this situation, you also lack the skills needed. There may be some ways to learn and develop those skills. Education is always an option. Find a seminar or a book or a class that will train you in this new skill. Again, as in the situation of lacking experience, invite someone who has the skills to train you. Ask for time with them to talk through how the skill works and spend time observing and learning from their example. Another option may be to bring in someone on a short-term contract or invite someone to join your team who can fill in the areas you lack. There may be times you step away from a situation to allow someone more suited to lead.

You may feel like an inadequate leader because you are responsible for more than you can accomplish in the time you have. First, make sure you are not carrying responsibilities that are not yours and hand them off to the appropriate people on your team. Second, find someone to work with you. May leaders have strong assistants who may be good leaders in their own right, but who love supporting you in your leadership role. You need someone who will respond to delegation, and who gets to know you well enough to do things the way you would if you had the time.

Sometimes we feel inadequate because of what people say to us or about us. There are times to listen to others and times to recognize if they are an authority in your life or not. No one can please everyone all the time. Be clear on what your role is, your job description, the vision you are pursuing, and don’t be distracted by those who want to speak into your life but truly have no right to.

Every leader will feel inadequate at times. If not, then you are no longer growing, and if you are no longer growing, you are quite possibly falling behind. Others will come along who will bypass your leadership because they are continuing to grow and learn and develop. While we cheer on those who are excelling next to us, we want to continue to be the best that we can be. The value of recognizing when and where we are inadequate is that we recognize where we need to grow to continue to lead well.

If you are an inadequate leader, that’s okay. Just look for ways to grow.

Keep looking up,

Andy Wiebe

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