Defining the “Reluctant Warrior”
It’s review time. You are sitting down with a teammate talking development and goals and the future with a hardworking, productive member of your organization. In the midst of this, comes the following – “Do I need to have goals and a career development plan? I don’t want to be a leader”.
Hopefully, your hair doesn’t explode outwards in a dandelion bulb while your inner voice quickly becomes your outer voice as you scream “HERETIC”!!!
News flash. Not everyone wants to be you. This might be a good time for reflection on whether you specifically might be the role model for “I want nothing to do with this stuff”. We could riff on that for a while, but let’s forge ahead and take it on faith that you are a wonderful leader and an inspiration to all around you and deal with what just got communicated. In the words of Ricky Bobby, “That. Just. Happened.”
So, what’s next. Pick up your coffee mug and prepare for the Next Part Of The Conversation.
The question to ask here is “what is a leader”? Follow that with “what does a leader do”?
The fact is, high-functioning organizations have a large proportion of staff who think like leaders, act like leaders, and drive the organization without benefit of title. They are the glue of a successful organization. Scratch through the surface of that comment a little bit and you will likely find a leader who is leading their colleagues by example, leading their family, and leading themself. From your perspective, this may be an opportunity to illustrate how much this person is leading that they may not realize.
From the perspective of working on a personal “strategic plan”, don’t let them off the hook. Stating that you wish no corner office, or team to run, is not a way to get out of the development process. It is up to you, the boss, to get some foundation here as to why this person should work a program, even if it isn’t designed to end up at the top.
When you look at the list of leadership skills (decision-making, negotiation, resolving conflict, influence, among others) it is undeniable that people like to work with others who have a solid foundation in these. Mastering these is good for everyone and your team.
Next, consider what mastery of leadership skills (or even acquaintance) will do. These skills are useful under any circumstance, especially if you find yourself in a situation you’d like to change. If you lack the skills, you aren’t changing the situation anytime soon. Leadership skills move you from spectator to participant.
And lastly, as has been mentioned here in many posts, we first lead ourself. Mastering these skills and being self-aware are a better alternative to blowing in the wind of reaction.
The Reluctant Warrior sometimes may be weighed down by the perception of how far the mountain climb to the top may be. They may have a life, and a full one at that, and lack the bandwidth to pursue some idealized version of “leadership development”. And, they may have been an eyewitness to the macabre wrecks of the various Icarus figures within the past who attempted to touch the sun, and are now water cooler fodder of “…remember the guy…”.
In any capacity, The Reluctant Warrior powers the team. As a leader, it is your responsibility to make sure they engage, and are respected, and in turn, that they are reminded of how much they really do lead.