Is leadership a choice? The simple answer in most cases is no. For most of us, we were trained in a skill and while merrily delivering on our goals as an individual contributor, we were thrust into a leadership role without much warning. The opportunity came open, and we grabbed it. Many are just not ready, suited or even interested in leading others, but the natural climb up the organization chart, and subsequent compensation, almost demands that we take a leadership role whether it is the right move for the person or the organization.
Now, if you ask me if “great” leadership is a choice, I will give you the opposite answer. To be a great leader, you must choose to be a leader. That is why it is often said that leadership cannot be taught, but it can be learned. I have dedicated the majority of my career to leading organizations, or training and coaching others to do so. I have had some great rewards and some huge failures. The difference usually comes down to the mindset of the student. If they have made the choice to become a great leader, they will glean learning from every interaction, good or bad.
Want to test whether your heart is in it. Ask yourself “If my title was stripped away from me today, would those who consider me a leader still look to me for leadership?” If not, you are leading by title. If so, you must clearly be demonstrating a leader’s mindset.