Every once in a while it’s a good idea to take a personal inventory as to how you are really doing in your leadership. Carry Nieuwhof encourages us to do this by asking three simple questions and giving honest answers to these questions.

Originally posted by Carey Nieuwhof

So how are you

doing as a leader… really?

And more importantly, how would you know how you’re doing as a leader?

Add a little insecurity into the mix, and the question feels even more complex.

Naturally, you’ll get feedback from your peers and probably get an occasional 360 review (both great practices).

But beyond that, how can you tell how you’re doing as a leader?

There’s a way to check that’s much simpler than you might think.

By asking yourself three simple questions, you can not only get an accurate snapshot of how you’re doing but also where you need to improve.

Getting an accurate picture of your leadership matters because leaders are great at deluding themselves about the quality of their leadership.

This falls into two categories:

Leaders who overestimate how well they’re doing.

Leaders who underestimate how well they’re doing.

Both are problematic for different reasons.

If you think you’re doing better than you are, you’re the last person to realize you need to improve.

And if you think you’re not doing as well as you actually are, then you likely have potential you have not yet tapped into.

Either way, the unaware leader is a less effective leader.

So getting a reasonably accurate check in on the quality of your leadership is critical to help you lead with all diligence.


The following three questions form three quick shoulder checks you can do.

As with all self-assessment, there are limits on how accurate it will be. But my guess is as you work through these questions in the next few minutes you’ll know a lot more about your leadership than you might predict.

And, lastly, a quick note. This post (like almost all posts on this blog) assumes you want to lead better now and steward the leadership gift that God has given you. If you don’t, you’ll push back against these questions. I get that. But if you care about leadership, as difficult as the answers to these questions might be, you will want to answer and act.

So, to gauge your leadership, as honestly as you can, answer these three questions:


One of the best ways to tell whether you’re a leader is simply this: Look over your shoulder and see if anyone’s following.

If no one’s following (or only a few are), you’re not leading.

It doesn’t matter how many leadership books you read, how many webinars you do or how grandiose your vision might be, a leader without followers is not a leader.

While we all get touchy about this in leadership, the reality is that leaders lead people. (This post explains why some leaders have a higher number of followers than others.)

So is anyone truly following you? Be honest.


That you have followers is one thing, but the next thing to check is the kind of person following you.

High capacity leaders will attract other high capacity people.

The caliber of the people around you points to the caliber of the leader within you.

Again, this isn’t always a fun question to answer, but it can become a springboard to progress.

If you don’t like what you find, ask yourself why higher capacity leaders don’t follow your lead. And then take steps to change that


It’s not just a question of who follows you, but also a question of who you’re following.

I’m not talking about the podcasts you listen to, the blogs or books you read or the conferences you attend. Our celebrity culture has created a mass following mentality that allows many people to follow influential leaders almost effortlessly. I’m not slamming this. I read and listen to leading voices all the time and love going to great events. I’m in when it comes to that.

But I think it’s easy to develop a false intimacy with these influential leaders, thinking we know them when in fact we’ve never met them and in all likelihood never will. Someone you will never meet really can’t mentor you. Not optimally.

While you can learn from people you read or listen to, what’s more important are the people you actually hang out with.

On that note, ask yourself:

Who do I personally spend the most time with?

Who’s personally building into me?

Who’s mentoring me?

Do the people I spend the most time with represent the kind of leader I want to be in 5 years?

Are the people closest to me helping me grow into the leader God has called me to be?

If the answers to these questions bother you, change the circle of people you hang out with.

Find some leaders and mentors who can help you realize your potential. Seriously, send an email today to someone who can do these things for you before you close this blog post.

Know why this is so important?

I find that by asking myself these three questions on a semi-regular basis, I get a fairly accurate assessment of where I am.

How about you? What questions would you add to this list?

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