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Are You a Leader?

Thursday 27 July 2023Filed in: Work

When people ask, I say that I coach "Founders, leaders, and experts working in creative and digital businesses." I've previously shared my take on what makes a "founder," so let's dive into the concept of a "leader".

I've never been comfortable calling myself a leader. It feels like a title that others should give based on their observations and our collaborations. Of course, it might be suggested by a job title or position in a company, but let's be honest — having those titles doesn't automatically make someone an exceptional leader.

Over time, I've come to see leadership as a collection of qualities and traits that we nurture and develop rather than just a label. Leaders are everywhere and being able to identify these traits in your team is a useful skill.

To help us assess, here are some questions you can ask to help determine if you, or a member of your team, have the traits of a leader — just change the "I" for "they" if assessing a team member.

  • Can I inspire and influence others to rally behind the business's vision?
  • Do I stay positive and hunt for solutions when faced with tough situations?
  • Can I express my thoughts and ideas clearly in various settings?
  • Do I actively listen and value input from my team members?
  • Do I support the personal and professional growth of my team and those around me?
  • When making decisions, especially the hard ones, do I think critically about the impact on individuals and the organisation?
  • Am I skilled at collaborating and building relationships within my team, the company, and my field of expertise?
  • Do I believe in continuous improvement, continually seeking ways to enhance my skills and knowledge?
  • Do I learn from my mistakes and view them as opportunities for growth?
  • Am I accountable for my actions, whether they lead to success or failure?
  • Do I have a clear sense of purpose and direction in my work and life?
  • Do I celebrate the achievements of others and ensure they receive due credit?

You don't have to possess all of these, but from my experience, "great" leaders have many, if not most, of the above.

Embracing the role of a "leader" isn't easy. It takes time to earn the respect and trust of your team, especially if you've gone from being one of them to leading them.

Luckily, I've got a vault full of insights from 25 years of work to help you navigate the twists and turns of leadership. I've led teams, collaborated with remarkable leaders, and learned plenty from the not-so-great ones. Today I put these experiences to good use working one-on-one with leaders working in creative and digital businesses.

Whether you're a seasoned leader on the hunt for fresh perspectives or new to leadership, having transitioned from an individual contributor role — let's have a conversation. Together, we can embark on your leadership journey and discover where it leads!

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"Are You a Leader?" was written by Keir Whitaker — I'm a UK-based coach working with founders, leaders and experts running digital and creative businesses. Why not book a free coaching consultation, learn about upcoming events or subscribe to my newsletter.

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