Test Your Leadership (Determine if you’re Really a Leader)

Pass or Fail

A leadership position or title does not make you a leader or person of influence. I’ve seen plenty of people who have leadership authority without the respect, commitment, or dedication from those who follow them. There are leaders who know they are not good or effective leaders but still want to remain in the role for the rewards the position offers, while others are completely blinded to the fact they are not good or effective leaders. At the same time there are competent leaders who can see they are good and effective leaders, while others are good or effective but can’t see it. Wherever you find yourself in the spectrum, you can test your leadership to see if you are in fact a good and effective leader. You need to ask yourself these questions:

Are people being positively influenced by you (would they follow you no matter your title)?

I’ve been in a variety of leadership roles during my life. I have experience leading at the different jobs I’ve had and also as a volunteer church leader. Those times (and at my current leadership position) have taught me a lot about leadership and influence. Leading in both of those reams allowed me to learn there is a distinct difference between leading paid staff and volunteers.

Paid staff relies on a consistent paycheck so they often stay at an organization no matter who is leading them due to job security. Volunteers freely give of themselves and are not held by a paycheck or benefits; they serve without the risk of losing their livelihood. This is why leading paid staff is easier than leading volunteers. One is tied down to a paycheck while the other has nothing holding them back from potentially leaving.

Your goal should be to lead in a way were people want to follow you because of your positive influence and contribution. Test your leadership effectiveness by honestly observing and asking yourself (or a mentor) if your behavior, actions, attitude, decisions, and habits are influencing people in a way were they would follow you no matter your role or title. Make the necessary adjustments if the answer is no.

Are you and your team producing results?

There are two irrefutable requirements of leadership. The first is to produce personal results within your main areas of responsibilities. The second is to make sure your people are producing results. A leader will not lead for long if those two requirements are not being achieved.

Let’s first discuss personal requirements. You need to be crystal clear about your core leadership roles and main areas of responsibilities. Those areas only you can or should be working in or on. You can gain clarity by asking your boss or taking time to think about this question: “What are the tasks only you can or should be doing that will have the best return on your time, energy, and for the organization?” When you are clear about your core roles and main areas of responsibilities you should strive to deliver a standard of excellence within those areas and remain competent by growing your leadership.

The second test of your leadership is if you are able to influence your people to deliver results. Good leaders can obtain average levels of results from their people while great leaders have the ability to obtain the maximum level of results from their people. The maximum results come when a leader makes these commitments: leading by example, building relationships, equipping, setting clear expectations, communicating the vision, rewarding results, creating a safe and trusting culture, and positively impacting those they lead. If you give your best to your people, your people will give their best to you.

Question: Can you add to the list? How else can a leader test to see if they are really leading and being effective?

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Dan, I think Leaders can test to see if they are effective by asking for reviews of themselves and Feedback from peers. I think a Leader should be reviewed on a regular and ongoing basis because its always great to know good or bad what people are saying about you, and how you can either help improve and or get better.

    • I totally agree with you Lincoln. The goal should be to have constant feedback and coaching. Thank you for adding to the topic.

  • Maybe by comparing yourself to proven leaders? For me, I start with Biblical leaders and look at how I stand in relation to them, especially their faith. I also look at other leaders I respect, both present and historical, and I kind of evaluate where I am based on what they’ve done. This isn’t a comparison in the negative sense (see my current blog post for a discussion on that), but it’s more of a visible way to gauge how I’m doing based on those who are proven successful as leaders. I don’t want to be them, but I do want to apply what’s made them successful to my own leadership journey.

    • I think that’s a great way to gauge your own leadership. There are certain leaders in the Bible who always inspire me such as Moses, David, Nehemiah, Paul. But there are many many others worthy of study!

      • They are very inspiring. God more often than not works through others.

    • Great way to test your leadership. I like the idea of comparing yourself with Biblical leaders, wise idea. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  • I think Kari summed up what I was thinking pretty well.

    Great suggestions, Dan.
    God bless and keep on shining and sharing.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for sharing:)

  • “If you give your best to your people, your people will give their best to you.” I think that’s a great place to start and if the people don’t, as Jim Collins would say, “You have the wrong people on the bus.”

    In the end the results speak for themselves. Well laid out and clear cut vision of how to lead, Dan! Communication is key.

    • Yes they do! Thank you for reading and adding your wisdom.

  • I think evaluating performance is huge. I have worked for so many leaders who give directives and never follow-up to see if goals are achieved and also never give you feedback on whether you met the objective. That’s very demoralizing. You’ve actually helped me see something I need to do differently in my leadership role. Thank you!

    • I’m glad I could help you:) Evaluated our own and those we leads performance is so essential. It shows what we are doing well and what we need to change. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  • A leader should consider how much trust he gives to those around him. It might be wise for the leader to consider asking others whether he is viewed as a micro-manager or as a leader who empowers others to carry out their responsibilities.

    • Great points, trust and honest feedback are essential. Thank you for reading and taking time to comment.

  • A simple test is asking the question. So many leaders want to send out a survey or let the “organizational development” department handle that stuff. But, a leader who is intentional, personal and able to ask the tough questions about themselves TO their employees is a rare leader and a special leader.

    • Great additional way to test your leadership. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • Love this Dan. Practical, sound advice on leadership.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for reading and commenting:)