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Follow the Leader

Bob Goldman on

There are people who are born leaders: Winston Churchill, Indira Gandhi, Axl Rose. And then there are people like you -- a born follower. If your manager says jump, you reach for your pogo stick. If your manager says roll over, over you roll. You're the ultimately flexible Gumby employee, the kind of person companies want most because all you want is to be told what to do.

If you think I am being disparaging, don't. Being a blind follower has served you well. Your ability to unthinkingly follow orders, no matter how misguided, is why you have managed to hang on to the ladder of success. And you know you will continue to hang on, as long as there is someone on a rung above you calling the shots.

But what if you are wrong about you? Is it possible that buried deep inside your mild-mannered marshmallow personality lurks a Genghis Kahn of the workplace, a hard-charging conqueror ready to sweep across the corporate steppes, striking terror in the hearts of co-workers and managers alike?

Probably not.

But it's not impossible. Or so I learned from "10 Signs You Might Be Leadership Material, From 10 Experts Who Know," a recent post on the Forbes website by David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom.

Since no one is giving you orders at the moment, why not crawl out from under your desk and see how many signs you can see in yourself.

Like sign No. 1, "You expect setbacks."

According to workplace expert, Jay Samit, leaders "have to accept and expect that sometimes people make mistakes, choose a dead-end path on a project, or drop the ball."

Of course, you accept and expect setbacks. Your entire career has been a string of dead ends and dropped balls. Who better to guide team members away from successful outcomes and lead them to achieve even bigger and better screw-ups, foul-ups and goofs? With your coaching, the team could actually bring the company to the brink of bankruptcy, at which point you, as leader, can give it the final nudge, so everyone losses their jobs.

Now, that's success.

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