Many potential individuals hesitate on the path to becoming leaders. Even though many organizations are eager to find those with leadership talent, why do these people still hesitate when given the opportunity to show leadership?
Firstly, the interpersonal risks that leadership might bring makes many back down. They worry that their actions as leaders might hurt their relationships with colleagues. Some are even more concerned that if they step up to lead, others might speak ill of them behind their backs.
Secondly, the risk to one's image is also a major concern. People fear that their leadership actions might leave a negative impression among colleagues. Even though organizations and employees both praise leadership, actually taking on a leadership role might negatively impact their image.
Lastly, many fear that if they choose to lead and the team fails, they will be seen as the sole person responsible.
The following three suggestions can inspire an employee's leadership potential and reduce these perceived risks:
- Offer extra support to moldable employees. Provide added support for potential employees, especially in the early stages of their careers or for newcomers and those at lower levels in the organization. Actively seek their opinions during critical moments and emphasize their value.
- When managing conflicts, focus on the issue, not the person. Ensure conflicts within teams are about the content of the work, not personal attacks. When friction occurs within a team, leaders should avoid getting emotionally involved and ensure conflicts stem from work differences, not personal biases or differing values. Research also suggests that appropriate "differences of opinion" can promote organizational innovation and thinking.
- Provide employees with a low-risk environment to try out leadership, allowing them to cultivate leadership skills in a relaxed setting. Leadership should encourage low-risk small projects to progressively shape their leadership charisma, reducing their hesitancy in decision-making or fear of failure.
Companies should realize that leadership is not just a position or honor but a responsibility and challenge. True leaders are those who choose to stand out despite the risks and challenges.