My intent for Part 1 of this blog post was to point out that it does not take much for a volunteer/employee to differentiate themselves from their peers. I suggested that simply showing up for work on time and having a positive attitude may be enough for a volunteer/employee to stand head and shoulders above the crowd. Of course, when this same person begins completing tasks and adding value, we may be inclined to herald from the rooftops, “I think we have a leader amongst us!”

But before we get ahead of ourselves and pronounce that the next Abraham Lincoln is in our midst, let’s slow down a bit and consider doing what I call the self-test. The self-test is a series of small tasks that have deadlines attached to them. For example, I recently identified ten men whom I thought had the potential to lead others.  Each possessed a great attitude and were getting things done within the organization I lead. Clearly they were standing out like that purple cow!

I had my assistant send out an email inviting the ten to join me for what I call Leadership Basics. The date I offered was Thursdays and I even provided two time slots, 5:30AM or 4:30PM. The training would last just three weeks with each of those sessions being 1.5 hours in length.

Here is what I was looking for:

  • Would they show up on time and prepared?
  • How would they enter the meeting? With a great attitude or talking about a bad morning or bad day?
  • How did they engage with others?
  • Were they a listener or a talker?
  • Were they gracious, or like a bull in a china shop?
  • Were they self-motivated (no reward offered for completing the assignment) or were they motivated by gifts (I offered a free dinner and a movie for one assignment)?

Here is what I found

  • Some were late, some were on time.
  • Some did their assignments, some got busy and even shared with me how busy they are (even though the assignments all took less than 10 minutes).
  • Some were prepared, some were not.
  • Some let us know about their personal problems and some did not.
  • Some let me know that they needed to leave early (and even took 10 minutes from the groups’ time to let us know why)!

The Good News

The good news is that two of these men stood out! They were able to demonstrate to me that with coaching, they have the potential to be future all-stars.  As leaders, it is our job to identify the talent within our organization and also to develop talent. Before we entrust more responsibilities to our people, let’s make sure that they can handle it. Remember, if they can’t manage themselves, they will not be able to manage others.

It does not take long to find out if one can manage themselves. Consider a self-test or two for that volunteer/employee that you are considering dispensing more responsibility to. What you find out may surprise you!

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