Many waver when given the opportunity to lead. Even if the idea appeals, fear of monumental responsibility, the demands of stakeholders in every corner, the pressure to uphold company values and meet the needs of all employees -- it's daunting.
But it doesn't mean you aren't made to be a great leader.
Earlier this year, Harvard Business Review asked the question that so many aspiring business leaders pose: How do I become a CEO?
You would think the answer isn't simple, but on some level, it very much is. As a Fortune 500 board member and principal at PwC shared in their response, there are two questions you should ask before you even get to the "how." Collectively, the two determine if you're mentally and physically able to take on the task.
The first question: "Do you have the motivation and focus required for a journey that will likely take decades?"
Given the quasi-celebrity status of some CEOs, it's tempting to head out on the journey to business leadership without thinking about how long the journey will take. But you should ask yourself: Do you have the stamina for decades of grind, grit, and challenge? Can you remain passionate about your business through it all? And will you be able to adapt to ever-changing circumstances and still push ahead?
Also, consider this: While most discussions around CEOs are nested in momentary news stories, highlighting a CEO's response and behavior in the spotlight, up-and-coming leaders seldom think about this scrutiny--over the many years it takes to build and grow a company. Are you ready for that?
The second question: "Do you have the potential to become a high-impact leader? Do you have the skills that will both distinguish you among your peers and enable you to lead at scale?"
As the experts in the article note, part of what differentiates a CEO from the crowd of current business leaders is their values, vision, and impact -- and their ability to hold true to all three over the course of years and decades.
Do you have the capacity for that kind of commitment? And do you have the relationship skills to build a community that supports life lived according to shared values, vision, and impact?
These questions really hit me. In part because I seldom hear them asked, but also because they highlight a key step in the rise to leadership we often forget: Are we ready to walk the long road, pocked with challenges? And if we're honest with ourselves, do we have the skills to successfully cultivate relationships rooted in strong values?
Both are necessary -- if sometimes uncomfortable -- questions for anyone eyeing the captain's chair.