It has long been debated whether leaders are born or created. And if you ask what makes a successful leader you are likely to find a variety of answers.

Leaders come in many forms. Some are called to create from inception, others are more skilled for a maintenance season and then there are those who are at their best leading through storms and trials. Depending on someone’s native abilities, acquired skills and personality style they may be more successful (and/or more fulfilled) in one of these settings more than the others.

But are there common qualities every leader should possess regardless of their setting?

In the past, my immediate response to this question would have been either integrity or persistence but I now think self-awareness is the bedrock for all other qualities. It is really the one thing that causes leaders to observe not just the world around them and scenarios that impact their company but also what we can uniquely bring to the table. Do we lead in ways that bring clarity, community and commitment or do we infuse our organizations with confusion, conflict and complacency?

I believe that if you take the time to get to know yourself and determine how you are naturally gifted then it will save years of frustration trying to become someone God never intended you to be. Often, this mindset is established early in school years and in our early jobs as the result of annual reviews. There is constant pressure to not just invest in the areas you flourish but also to put equal weight into improving areas of personal ‘weaknesses. For example, on a scale of 1-10, I am a “4” when it comes to being a handyman around our home. (My wife would love to make a comment on that point). If I continued with this mindset of focusing completely on my personal areas of weakness, then I might spend the next year attending classes at Home Depot becoming an expert at home projects. With all that effort I might climb to a “6” or maybe even a “7” out of 10, but what will it cost me? Will I be a happy “7” or frustrated that I’m still not a pro? Looking at this from a different perspective, what could I have accomplished over the last year if I put the same energy into something I was at least ‘good’ at and that I find enjoyable? Many from my generation wish we would have learned this concept earlier in our lives. This self-knowledge might have changed where we go college, what we studied and the direction of our career.

I recommend that younger adults gain from this retrospective view. Become more self-aware, whether you are just beginning your career or are rebranding for your next act. There are so many tools available today that can help you understand more about yourself offering personalized direction:

  • CliftonStrengths (previously Strengths Finders) – This assessment identifies natural strengths. Your 20 top strengths are broken out into four categories: strategic, influencing, relational and executing. The goal is to compare natural talents with the career you are in or considering.
  • You Science – An assessment that really hones in on how your mind is wired, what makes you tick, the skills and knowledge that set you apart. The natural God given capabilities that don’t change regardless of education or work experience.
  • Myers Briggs – This 16-prong personality assessment is well known and helps with understanding what environments most match your personality.
  • DISC – A similar (and simpler) assessment to Myers Briggs – This assesses behavioral styles and preferences that are easy to remember.
  • Enneagram – This one has caught on in recent years as it assesses authentic gifts and vices. It dives more deeply into core needs, passions, fears and unpacks a bit more about what happens when you are operating out of your strength or depletion.
As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

At TwelveStone Health we don’t strive to be a better version of your peers. Rather, our goal is that each of us become the best version of how God designed you to be. Please feel free to discuss this topic at your next check-in with your supervisor.

We believe that the more that each of us steps into what God has designed us to be, the better we are as an organization.