Yesterday I penned a few notes on one way to easily identify strong leaders and I’m still very much thinking about this topic (it’s actually come up quite a bit for me in the last few months).

I was chatting with a friend and working backward through the 2015 year and all that it had to offer us, retrospecting a bit and thinking about our own growth as people and professionals.

We dialogued about how we had each grown as leaders and something that came up was worth capturing down on paper – essentially, we tried to think back on when we both decided to intentionally and explicitly pursue leadership as part of our career track.

We identified three commonalities between our stories and we reasoned that they are probably (near) universal.

The first is that we decided that we wanted to be a leader when someone else, first, recognized and spotted our potential. In other words, I decided that I wanted to be a leader when someone else told me that I could be one!


Someone in our past may have actually said those words explicitly to us:

I think you can be a leader.

It’s interesting to note that leadership then, and now, wasn’t a function of age but rather ability (and gross potential). In other words, someone breathed those life-giving words into us and we adopted them and believed that it could be true.

I wonder how many times those words have been spoken to me; I wonder how many times I have said (or lost an opportunity to tell someone else) that I really believed in them. I don’t want to overlook those anymore, especially when it’s true.

Secondly, my leadership skills exponentially increase when someone else seriously invests in us (hence yesterday’s blog post). It wasn’t just a “necessary nuisance” but something that this person thought was a real priority. This person made time out of their busy schedule to see us advance and to lay the groundwork in partnership to make it happen.

Thirdly, I was eventually entrusted with greater and increasing responsibility, allowing me to put my leadership training into live-fire practice. This required, naturally, a large amount of trust and even risk, on both our parts (and the larger organization) but the benefits and upside of it working out would be exponential in gain.

So, simply, the three themes are:

  1. Identify
  2. Invest
  3. Entrust

Things to think about – let’s all make this a goal for ourselves to gift these three things to others.