1. Can you eat last?
Like being a good mother, you eat last or don’t eat at all. While I didn’t grow up destitute, my mother would constantly take food off of her plate and put it on ours. Growing up, I thought this was standard-mother-practice. Like my mother, a good leader knows when his/her team’s needs come first. It’s not only about getting paid less, not taking a bonus, not taking that vacation (which you have to do sometimes) but it’s literally almost about not eating that last piece of cake.
2. Do you have nerves of steel?
Being a leader means being the bearer of all brunt. Employees are not getting along, you deal with it. Money running low, you find more. Sales are low, you’re responsible. Marketing not working out, you’re not doing your job. Projects falling behind, you’re not inspiring enough. You get the picture. If you can keep your cool dealing with all of these issues including your personal stuff (bring home milk, your wife’s birthday is coming up, you need to new tires for your bicycle, need to get your teeth cleaned, etc.) you have the makes of a great leader.
3. Can you get over yourself?
“Pride is the crutch of the insecure” so check that ego at the door. When it comes to your company there is a difference between having pride in your work, your company, your product, or your team. As a leader, you ought not to feel ashamed or feel bested when someone disagrees with you… right or wrong. If they’re right, great. You’ve just avoided a potential cost or opportunity loss. If they’re wrong, use it as an opportunity to mentor them – privately if appropriate.
4. Do you trust people you hire?
Hire the best people and get out of their way. If you’ve done your job right and hired the right people, stay out of their way. Don’t micro manage. Don’t analyze mid project. Don’t constantly ask for updates. Just let them do their magic. Your trust cultivates and ensures your team’s creativity, success and viability. If you’re not in charge of hiring, open a dialogue with your manager or someone who does the hiring. Share your concerns.
5. Do you have an innate sense of duty?
Have you ever wondered who puts on the events, puts up the Christmas tree, picks up paper, cleans up after a party? Often it’s one of the company’s leaders. If you’re a true leader, you find this kind work liberating fulfilling your sense of duty.
6. D1cks and b1tches run companies!
All idioms aside, can you be tough when needed to encourage your team to finish projects? You often have to be assertive and prioritize projects based on company goals rather than departmental needs. Remember, you goal is not to make friends. Sure, your team is filled with nice, talented folks and you sometimes hang out with them after work. But your responsibility is to their future, to your company. As a leader, your goal is to always keep your company’s goal on the horizon.
7. Are you willing to mentor?
Are you willing to teach someone so they can learn your skills and learn from your experiences? Every good leader is always willing to help fellow team members. You should be walking around offering your expertise to people on your team or even outside of your team. Arun Ajar from Zappos and One King’s Lane got on phone calls with my dev team to help on projects. He has no vested interest in our company – but he paid it forward.