I’m about to be a manager but lack leadership ability

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.

So find something in your work that you’re intent on accomplishing no matter the odds. And one other thing: There’s no need to take the lead in matters that don’t especially spark your interest.

Junko Umihara, psychiatrist

(from July 21, 2016, issue)Speech

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