Think you're a good leader?

Take this Leadership Challenges Quiz!

Tim Herd 2024
Posted by Tim Herd at 06/25/2024

Sailboat lightning

Leadership may seem easy when your followers either think just like you, or are readily compliant to any of your desires. But that’s not real life, nor is it real leadership.

Leadership builds collaborative relationships, solves problems, and creates opportunities. But rarely does that process come easily in the people business!

So it is to our personal and corporate benefit to prepare for such a time when the unexpected happens, challenges rise, and things just go wrong—which is pretty much inevitable! The ancient Stoics practiced what they called premeditatio malorum: premeditating how to cope with disasters and troubles ahead.

More recently, as management guru Peter Drucker once explained, you can be efficient when you’re working with things, but when you’re working with people, you sure can’t! (my paraphrase!) People are messy!

Take this short essay quiz to test your mental preparedness for when the inevitable challenges occur. All of these real-life trials are based on my personal experiences over the years.

Q: How would you manage the people as the leader of your team when others insert themselves for control of your venture as…

1. Usurpers, who are not stakeholders, and have no part in the process, yet want to change the outcome.

2. Hijackers, who recognize the value that the team is producing, but want to direct it toward a different objective.

3. Micromanagers, who agree, but insist on imprinting their own style on the project’s expression, often with little to no substantive impact to the original intent or content.

4. Thorns, who, despite the rest of the team’s consensus, continue to strenuously press for adoption of their dissenting viewpoint.

5. Wrong Hatters, who incorrectly assume the role of decision-maker or arbitrator because of responsibilities elsewhere, and misdirect talent and resources.

6. Cats, who are strong-minded, self-controlled, and don’t consider themselves obligated to follow the team leader.

7. Hardballers, who see themselves as tough negotiators, and are willing to raise the stakes through threats or intimidation to get their way.

8. Always Righters, who know their facts, opinions, and how everyone else ought to think in any particular instance, and cannot be persuaded otherwise.

9. Circlers, who can never come to a definite decision or action, always opting for more information, more options, more time, often rehashing all previous discussions.

10. Floaters, who are often late, absent, or unprepared, avoid critical thinking, and defer to others to contribute to timely work.

How did you do? Did you recognize your own behavior in any of the types of challengers? If so, you may have better insights on how to lead others of your kind! Were you able to draw upon previously hard-earned wisdom, or did you make something up that seemed like it could be a good textbook answer? Remember, building with people is messy, and definitely not textbook!

I invite you to briefly describe your approach in the comments to one or more of the challenges, so we may all learn.

Thought exercises are important for preparedness, but there’s no better instructor than personal immersion in the messy dynamics of the people business (or shall we say, baptism by fire?).

Look for all the leadership opportunities that come your way! Applications are now open for the PRPS Leadership Development Academy Class of 2024, with biweekly sessions starting the week of October 14, and an in-person workshop December 5-6. Sign up now!