One of the perks that come with my job is the opportunity for me to meet many different people and get to know them by asking them questions. I have found that almost everyone is open to answering a few questions about leadership. It has also helped me to understand leadership from a different perspective.

There are a few topics that I try to touch as I ask the questions, but one of my most favorite questions deals with “Why.”

The question is basic and simple, “Do you consider yourself a leader and if so, why?”

Just a few of the answers that I have received have varied from “because I do not like to follow”, “because of my position”, or just “people follow me.”

Now I am not saying that any of the answers are wrong however I do think that almost every one of the leaders that I have spoken to would benefit by understanding the “Why” they are doing what they are doing before they begin doing. (There is a lot of “doing” in that sentence.)

When I begin asking that question, almost all of the leaders that I spoke had no trouble telling me that they were a leader, the problem was the why they considered themselves leaders. I find the “why” to be the mission statement of leadership. It is the why we do what we do.

These answers from helped me realize the importance of explaining a foundational value of leadership. The “why.” I will write this quickly, however, the actual process will take time and requires some honest answers on your part.

If you have been promoted into a leadership position, you must admit to yourself that this alone does not make you a leader. It only indicates that you have leadership potential. You will need to ask yourself the questions below that will help you find the “why.”

If you have sought out a leadership role for personal advancement, or because you don’t like following, this also does not alone make you a leader. You too should ask yourself the questions below.

Finally, if at one time in your life understood the “why” that you were in leadership, it is always good to reexamine our motives and make sure that we are on the right track. So, go ahead and ask yourself the questions as well.

This week’s experiment is to ask these questions and determine why you are in leadership.

1. What is the change that I would like to see happen? – It the leadership world this is called situation analysis. This could be as simple as recognizing what frustrates or disappoints you about your environment.

2. What is the preferred outcome? – Without this next step, you will be stuck in a complaining mode. This is where you get creative establish what it would look like for things to be better.

3. How can you reach your outcome? – This is when you begin working on your strategy. While there could be many different methods to achieve the vision, as a leader you will need to determine which is the most rational given the resources that you have.
4. Are there others that share your beliefs? – This is the building of a team. Are there others that also see the need for the change? When you tell them your preferred outcome, do they get excited? Do they have ideas on how to achieve the vision?

If you can ask yourself these questions and provide yourself honest answers, you will quickly understand the why you are in a leadership role.
So, are you a leader? If so, why?