J.T. Allen is the co-founder, CEO, and driving force behind myFootpath, an Inc. 500 company located in Chicago’s west loop. myFootpath helps people 15-45 find their footpath in life, or “what’s next” – whether that’s a college education, a new career, or something else along the way. Follow them at @myFootpath.
Do you believe that good leaders are born or bred?
Leadership is a skill. Just like shooting baskets or playing the piano, you get better at leadership if you practice. And, like many skills, some people are born naturally better at them than others. The trick with leadership is that it’s not so easy to know when and how to practice it.
But, I’d challenge anybody at any level of an organization to practice some of the things that make great business leaders: managing conflict, self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses, problem solving instead of simply completing the task assigned, and looking for people who can teach you new things. Look for ways you can practice and develop leadership skills. You may be surprised at how a little practice can develop the leader within you.
What is one characteristic every leader needs to succeed?
Self-awareness. Great leaders often know what they are good at and where they need to bring in help on a task. They have the confidence to know that they can play to their strengths and the humility to know that the outcome may be better if the right talent can help make up for any weaknesses.
What is required to be a great leader?
Confidence to seize an opportunity. It takes self-awareness to recognize the strengths and weaknesses on a team, and to bring in the talent to make the team better. Never be afraid to fail. To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt: if you fail, fail while daring greatly.
BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.