The Yomiuri Shimbun Dear Troubleshooter:
I’m a female company employee in my late 40s. I lack leadership ability. I have a tendency to follow other people, probably because I was doted on as an only child and experienced few hardships growing up. I’m losing confidence in myself just as I’m about to be promoted to a managerial post.
I’ve worked diligently under bosses and senior colleagues until now. I sometimes emcee meetings but, not knowing how to demonstrate leadership, I easily get lost on how to proceed. When asked to state an opinion, I have difficulty gathering my thoughts, and end up giving a response that misses the point. Afterward, I always beat myself up over what I should have said or done.
I also often fail to take the initiative at gatherings, as I’m not quick-witted. I don’t notice that something needs doing until I see other people do it. I’m probably regarded as unreliable and incompetent.
I greatly envy people who work briskly, give instructions in a commanding voice and have a way with words. To change myself, I’ve read many books and attended expensive seminars, all to no avail. I want to know how I can change myself.
S, Ibaraki Prefecture
Dear Ms. S:
Why can’t you show leadership? It’s because showing leadership itself is your ultimate goal. Leadership is a means, not a goal. People assume leadership to accomplish goals, such as bringing a plan to fruition or pushing through a reform.
It may sound rude, but when reading your letter, I got the feeling you lack goals for your life. You’re obsessed about displaying leadership only because you’re about to receive a promotion to the managerial level. Such a motive will never give rise to leadership.
First, you should set a goal that sparks your enthusiasm and that you have a strong desire to accomplish. Next, to attain the goal, think intently about how to explain it in a way that wins people’s sympathy and cooperation, and then put the idea into practice. You will naturally learn how to display leadership through this process.