Were You Inspired to Become a Leader, or Promoted Into a Leadership Position?

Earlier today, I tweeted this question from my Twitter account.  And, after giving it some thought, I decided to open this question up to the World to be answered, by way of my blog.

Virtually all leaders have a very unique and interesting answer to this question.  Through this post, I want to survey leaders to hear their story.  And, since this is such a dynamic post and discussion, I will be making it a destination link on my list of pages on my blog’s homepage.  I am hoping to attract leaders from all circles of our World; military and civilian, corporate and government, volunteer and community groups, etc.  I encourage you to participate.


Why (or how) did you become a leader?  Were you inspired to become a leader, or promoted into a leadership position?

Many people work most of their entire career to ultimately become a leader at various levels; a leader of a team of people or department, or a leader of an entire organization.  In some instances, they are inspired to grow professionally and personally to acquire the traits, talents and skills necessary to be more successful, and to become a leader.  In other instances, progressively successful people simply move up the ladder through meritorious advancement; promoted as a result of doing a good job or passing various thresholds of time, accomplishment and success.

A discussion like this can go very deep; and, I hope it does.  But, quite simply, I wanted to ask you what made you a leader?  In most cases, regardless of the path or motivation, you no doubt became a leader by your own actions.  But, were you inspired to become a leader?  Were you motivated to grow and become a leader because of the organization you worked for?  Were you inspired by a boss you worked for?  Maybe that boss acted as a mentor (or, in the Navy, we called it a Sea Daddy: A senior, more experienced sailor who unofficially takes a new member of the crew under his wing and mentors him. Senior Enlisted Advisor a CPO in charge of your career).  Or, did you just simply punch your ticket while ascending the ladder of success?

In the early stages of my career, I was not a leader, as I did not yet acquire the knowledge or achievements to earn a promotion, nor did I thoroughly possess the traits or virtues of a leader.  I had to continue to develop those things over time.  But, in my case, I did have a few people above me in the chain-of-command who saw something in me;  They saw leadership potential.  Notice I said potential.  These individuals had already been an inspiration to me, and I had a strong desire to emulate them.  I watched them closely, learning from their actions (their successes, mistakes and pitfalls).  I learned how that treated people; how they managed them, how they disciplined them, how they taught and mentored them.  I learned how they ran their respective organizations.  I learned from their business-sense and fundamental management styles, as well as the way they handled their day-to-day challenges.  From them, I learned what to do and what not to do to become more successful.  I was fortunate to have leaders who were worth watching. 

What these individuals saw in me early in my career began to grow and blossom.  Through hard work and a strong work ethic, over time, I was promoted into a series of supervisory positions that acted as a ‘proving ground’ for my leadership capabilities; to foster and nurture the traits and virtues a leader must have.  In those positions, my leadership knowledge, skills and talents became stronger.  Most importantly, I learned about people, and they learned about me.  Quite honestly, I learned about me.  Ultimately, I earned the trust and confidence of my superiors, and I was promoted into middle and upper management.  20 years later, I have grown as a leader.  And, to answer my original question, I was inspired to become a leader by some very special managers and leaders early in my career.  Everything else was hard work and determination. 

How about you?  Were you inspired to become a leader?  Or, were you simply promoted into a leadership position?  I look forward to learning about you and your path to success.

5 Responses to “Were You Inspired to Become a Leader, or Promoted Into a Leadership Position?”

  1. Hi Dale. I feel in insight that I was always going to be in some sort of leadership role. As a boy I enjoyed influencing others, even before I recognised that’s what I was doing or truly understood why and what. Being in leadership roles for local sporting teams and similar seemed quite natural, but as much for the learning I took away as for any innate ability. Re my working life I have been in formal leadership roles for over 20 years of my 25 year career and have always enjoyed the challenges. Essentially, I have always enjoyed working with and being around people so it seemed like a natural transition to be paid for what I enjoy. This has most recently enabled me to leave a full-time national leadership role with GE to venture out into consulting, coaching and training through my business, CoachStation, with a focus on leadership development. The most important aspect of all of this for me is that I recognise I still have so much to learn, yet enjoy giving so much and trying to make a difference. Leadership has provide the platform for this to happen.


  2. Jose LugoSantiago - Craft Your Journey! Says:

    Dale, I believe leadership discovery is situational; it has to be recognized. Sometimes people are thrusted into positions of leadership because of potential recognition. Other times, a situation arises where our own skills and passion for a cause awakens the leader in us. Either way, there is no leader without followers. True leadership (peronal or positional) is by recognition, Always motivated!


  3. I’ve thought a lot about success in business (which requires leadership–well, you could luck into it, but let’s put that aside for the moment). Most successful business leaders are students of history. They study others, understand how they succeeded, and learn from it.

    In that way, inspiration (in that you saw the big picture, you recognized the right solution when you saw it) is the good answer. But, in a perfect world, you were also promoted to a leadership position because that trait surfaced early.

    You need to add a poll so we can collect answers.


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