Leadership is a role anyone can assume. We each have the ability to be a leader. However, we don’t all have the ability to be a strong, effective leader. Even if we are placed in a leadership role without really being ready for it, we do have the resources to lead the way. Being a leader is something we should embrace. If we don’t embrace the role, it’s nearly impossible to succeed.
Leading comes from a spirit of teaching, nurturing, and guiding people in a way that brings out their very best. Leading does not come from a place of authority.
I’ve been on all sides of the leadership equation. I’ve had the pleasure to be taught and inspired by people who clearly understood what it means to lead. I’ve been pushed and motivated, and asked to reach just a little past my potential.
I’ve also had the pleasure to be shown exactly what it means to fail at leadership. I’ve also been led by those who are of the opinion that leadership comes from a place of authority. I say it was a pleasure because it’s important to see what we don’t want to become.
I was placed in a leadership role I wasn’t quite prepared for, even though it was one I fully embraced. I quickly learned to change my mindset when it comes to having a “style” of leadership. The group I was asked to lead didn’t respond to the style I was using, and I needed to identify what they would respond to quickly. Success was the only option and without being flexible, I could not get my team to follow my lead. To be frank, I needed them more than they needed me.
I accepted a leadership role where the objective and goals were clear, there were just no resources available to pull them off. I recognized quickly how what was being asked of me, would take nothing short of a miracle, regardless of my drive or ability. The resources I had weren’t adequate and those I needed weren’t available. My only choice as a leader in this example was to walk away from the position. I had to do what was best for myself.
Here are some things I feel we can all use to become better, more effective leaders regardless of the setting.
1 – Lead yourself.
Lead by example. Demand from others only what you are willing to demand from yourself. Standing tall in the face of adversity begins with self. As leaders, we are put in situations where adversity must be dealt with. When we can handle our own day-to-day challenges effectively, we are in a much better position to help others through similar challenges.
Understand that people are watching. Body language, expressions, and reactions matter. Leading doesn’t only happen when we are on the stage, it happens all day long. We must continue to lead, even when no one appears to be watching.
2 – Collaborate.
Work with those around you. Teams are always more effective than individuals. Leave your ego behind in order to get ahead. This doesn’t mean we give up control or cease to have the ability to inspire. Collaboration means recognizing that we aren’t experts in everything and that’s ok. It’s also ok to share ideas. This puts everyone in a much better position to succeed. This can also include delegating tasks or projects to other team members.
What better way to get people we are leading to buy in, than by asking them to invest in what we are trying to accomplish? Most people will take more pride in “our” project than they will in “my” project. This also gives you the chance to groom the leaders of tomorrow who are equally important.
3 – Use your assets.
Recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your team and build around those. Don’t force a structure or system if the parts don’t fit. Realize you will always have weak links. Use your strong ones to minimize the impact those weak links have. If you work for a company or organization, recognize what is at your disposal. Chances are, you will not have everything you need, however, be sure to use what you have and really leverage your best tools.
4 – Embrace change.
Be ready for change because it’s coming. Nothing stays the same. Embrace the fact that where you are now won’t last forever. Good or bad, leaders persevere. The most effective leaders weather each and every storm. A thing I see from those who achieve greatness at their craft is the ability to maintain an even state of being. They don’t get too high when it’s going well, or too low when things get rough. This doesn’t mean they’re emotionless, but they manage their emotions well.
5 – Be a visionary.
Leading comes down to having the vision those who follow do not. This isn’t a knock on “followers”. We need people willing to take the lead and execute the vision. The visionary has the ability to not only look over the landscape and see the map but to choose which road to follow next. Some roads lead to nowhere, but the visionary can turn around and get back on track. The leader with a vision will choose another road and see where it may go, without fear of the possibility of having to turn around again. Failure can happen often and turnarounds are necessary.
Look around at the people you interact with on a daily basis. Who inspires you? Who do you know that brings out the best in you or pushes you to be a better person? Look for some of these qualities within those people, there is a good chance you can learn a lot from them. With that, you can pass it on and inspire someone else.
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