More than 75 years have passed since Henry Ford made the idea of leadership rather simple: “The question of who ought to be boss is like asking who ought to be the tenor in the quartet. Obviously, the person who can sing tenor.”
After the fact — once a decision has been reached, when the results are all in, when productivity increases — it is much easier to see who can lead, or sing tenor, as Ford suggests.
The question better asked is how to identify leaders before they sing. Leaders rarely act like leaders only when asked. They don’t wait to be given specific authority. True leaders emerge through their actions and messages in nearly every setting and context in which they are thrust.
Leaders emerge on teams, in community gatherings, at school, in religious congregations, when speaking and when volunteering. You can’t keep a good leader down. They just keep showing up and elevating results while gaining followership with those around them. When asking whether someone has the potential to lead, look no further than everywhere else they have been.