Photo of Gloria Cotton

Sometimes saying yes to a leadership opportunity is the right thing to do, and sometimes it isn’t. No matter if it’s a complex situation or a no-brainer, here are a few things to consider when deciding to take a leadership role—or not.

It’s an honor to be offered opportunities. But we should approach any new venture with careful consideration, no matter how tempting it may be.

I always thank whoever is offering, then ask them what they see in me that sparked their interest. Before I let them know if I’m in or not, I consider the following:

[ 1 ]

Am I prepared physically, mentally, psychologically and emotionally?

What’s required and what toll will it take on my body, mind, heart and spirit to do this job? How will it impact my life professionally and personally? Some people love start-up leadership roles. Some are better in sunset leadership positions. Different skills are required to set a path, create excitement and engagement versus maintaining engagement, energy and creativity when a project is ending or a company is changing direction or closing.  Do you have the physical, mental, psychological and emotional energy to hang in there, be inspired and engaged, and create the environment and build relationships where others can do the same?

[ 2 ]

Does it make my heart sing?

Think about what the role is offering. It may be important and needed. The responsibilities may have individual, organizational or even global impacts. The job may be aligned with your values and goals and may be something that you respect. But that doesn’t always mean it inspires you, or is right for you—now or ever. Do you feel passionate, excited, motivated, privileged and special by what this new offer means, to you and others? If your answer is “Yes!” to these things, your heart is probably singing! This feeling will energize and sustain you through the most challenging of times.

[ 3 ]

Will this offer allow me to maintain the things that already make my heart sing, in the short- and long-term?

Ok, so even if the opportunity makes your heart sing, is it distracting from or delaying other things that have greater importance right now? Sometimes answering this is a matter of prioritizing. It’s a wonderful dilemma that makes it hard to choose when there are many attractive and necessary things about a job. Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing—maybe it’s not right for you now, but could be at another time. Will the opportunity come around again?  If so or if not, can you look back at your decision and know you did what was best for yourself and everyone else?

[ 4 ]

Will my learning, growth and experiences in the position be aligned with my life’s purpose?

Is this position on the main road of your professional and personal fulfillment and optimal success, or is it a detour? And, if it’s a detour, is it needed? After all, sometimes we have to pull off the road to rest, relax and get reenergized. Will you be able to easily get back onto the main road or might you be thrown off track?  Who, what, why and how might you get sidetracked or delayed in reaching your larger short- and long-term goals? Does this job support you in the full landscape of your life?  Of course, if you haven’t yet seen or painted the landscape, you’ll need to back up and do that at this point.

[ 5 ]

 What do I think AND how do I feel about it?

Will you be proud to be known as a leader in this organization, with these responsibilities and required deliverables? Does the job reflect and allow you to invest who you are? Does it help build your brand as a leader and as a human being? Will people whose opinion you care about be proud and pleased for you?

[ 6]

Why am I being offered or considered for this position?

This is about the motivation of others. Will you be set up to succeed or fail? What’s the “buzz” about the job, the people you’ll report to, those who will report to you, etc.? This is an opportunity for some honest, realistic reconnaissance.


Lots of wonderful books and articles have been written and TED Talks given about how to be a fabulous leader. I recommend this kind of introspection before you submit your application, and sign your name on the dotted line.