First and foremost that natural born leaders is a fallacy and a myth. Are there people who appear to lead more naturally than others? Of course! Part of the appearance is from an abundance of leadership practice. Those who look like and act like leadership traits came with birth, have been raising their hand to lead stuff since they came out of the womb. But, in order to understand what drives their behavior and yes, the good, bad, and ugly sides of unbridled ambition, you will benefit from knowing what they believe they need to succeed. It is the pursuit of these needs for these leaders that create the very behaviors that others sometimes label difficult. But it is this Monday Moment that will show these leaders as driven, not difficult, decisive, not dictatorial, and successful no matter what is said about them.
Leaders who appear to come by the skill set without even thinking, are doers. They are nearly always looking for the action item in a discussion. When you share emotions or a problem, they ask, in their head if not aloud, what do you want me to do about that? When meetings take too long, these leaders want to know if they can leave to accomplish something and return when action items are assigned. They need, crave, and create action items that can then be crossed off a list. Accomplish some of their tasks awaiting completion and you’ll score BIG points with these leaders.
Leaders you might call Type A or natural born, respond well to a challenge. Motivate them by giving them what any reasonable person would call an unreasonable time frame and watch them fly into action. Persuade and influence their behavior by reminding this leader that what they want, simply can’t happen. (Just be sure you’re ready to see what can’t happen be made real.) These leaders challenge themselves daily and often hourly with small competitive games of what they can accomplish in how short of a time frame. They set goals with disproportionate time frames and have very little concept for the amount of time it takes anyone, including themselves, to do anything. Having a challenge gives this leader energy and is part of what’s missing when leaders, who once performed well, seem unmotivated or burnt out.
Leaders who need action and challenge, also crave results from their efforts. Effort put in should be in some way commensurate with the value of the outcome, at least in their mind. Make them waste their time and you’ll get to see the frustrated, pushy, and demanding version of their normally valuable skills and talents. Show them multiple results from one idea, effort, or action, and you’ll be seen as the new most valuable player. Do nothing and they’ll still create more results than the average person, because the very achievement of results motivates them.
Sense of Control
More than once, leaders of this ilk have been called control freaks. Not all naturally appearing leaders need to control everything, but when under stress their desire for control becomes obvious. A sense of control puts the ability to take action, rise to a challenge, and get results squarely within their own abilities. They have no one to wait on and no one to lose patience with, except of course, themselves. They’re not usually trying to control you, but more your efforts and outcomes that apply to the desired end result. However, when stressed they can appear to bark orders, dictate actions, and demand immediate responses, or else you’ll be dismissed as not moving fast enough for that project.
Leaders who come by leadership seemingly naturally have been trying to accomplish as much as possible, with minimal effort expended, and the greatest numbers of results from one action, since childhood. They’ve had a great deal of practice in being efficient and seem to see a project with too many details and too long a time frame as unnecessary. The need for efficiency is of course, born out of a need for results and actions, as the more results achieved with the least amount of actions equals efficiency, or as has been labeled in more recent times, multi-tasking. Appear to do more than most in less time and with less whining or downtime and they’ll be impressed, if they notice. Wait for them to praise those very same efforts and you’ll be waiting a while, as they tend to assume this is how everyone prefers to conduct themselves.
There are leaders on national stages at present who have these needs and who get frustrated when these needs seem so far out of reach. A frustrated, results driven leader looks like one big bad bully in the making. Be not fooled by the behavior you see, and don’t, in any way, take it personally. If you want the results they’re seeking, stand back and let them keep going as standing in their way will only appear to them as a challenge. In your office, set boundaries for the expression of their frustration and stay focused on your tasks and assignments. Speed of completion is key if you report to this leader and are you done yet? is their favorite question. So, are you? Done? Yet?
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist and professional speaker. Her coaching, books, and skill based training programs are requested internationally. Monica is the CEO of www.ContagiousCompanies.com and a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives. She may be reached at 1-866-382-0121. To learn more about the CORE Profile® or to complete the abbreviated, free, CORE Snapshot™, follow this link.