Are you a leader? Do you look the part? Do you act the part?
Whether you consider yourself a leader or not…you are. Each daily action and minute by minute interaction you have is scrutinized by you and those around you and filtered within the context of influence and judgement. Stop thinking that you can get out of it. You are a leader. Discontinue the lie that you tell yourself, “I’m not a leader…that’s not my personality…”
You are a leader whether you like it or not.
The only real question is: Are you going to be a positive leader or a negative leader? Will you make yourself and those around you better…or worse.
Chances are, at your best, you are trying to be a good leader. If you are like me, you are trying hard, but not always succeeding. I am constantly working and studying, reading and listening, to improve my leadership skills, and I have a challenging time defining good leadership both for myself and others.
Leaders have many faces. They are not gender specific. They are not age specific. Leaders are extroverts, introverts, great motivators, silent and steady. They are all races. They are all religions and nationalities. Leaders are not born, but some leaders are born into leadership roles. There is no one image that I can create to define a leader. There is no leadership “posterchild.”
In Buddhist tradition, the Dalai Lama is born holy, but whether it is admitted or not, the Dalai Lama is then trained to be a leader. Leadership is a skill not a talent.
There are leaders at every level of every organization. In all companies, non-profits, governments, militias, and cults leadership is required at all levels of work…not just management. Successful organizations imbue the entire populace with leadership. The fact is that leadership is everywhere and must be inside everyone.
Leadership must start with me (you), and then leadership can take almost any form imaginable. I have decided that I am going to make every effort to be a leader for good and positive outcomes. As a result, I look to great leaders of the past to learn and develop my leadership skills.
I have been studying leadership for the better part of 20 years, and I am still learning. By no means am I an expert on leadership. However, there are 4 common qualities that I have found all leaders share:
1. Integrity – Great leaders do what they say they are going to do when they say they will do it.
2. Safety – Great leaders make everyone around them feel safe. There are times when great leaders must push people out of their comfort zone, but all great leaders know that nobody will do something they do not want to do. For that reason, great leaders can create the dichotomy of motivating people to feel safe while living a bit outside of their comfort zone.
3. Vision – Leaders are followed because they appeal to the basic human needs for success, achievement, and affiliation. Humans are social creatures, and we need attention. However, we also need to feel self-confident and fulfilled. Fulfillment and self-confidence comes from achievement. Great leaders have a vision for the future that allows everyone around them to feel success and affiliation.
4. Control – Great leaders have control of themselves. Many people call this control a form of discipline, but I think all discipline comes from desire. Great leaders have great desire.
If you want to be a great leader consider honing these four skills. Leaders may come in all shapes and sizes, but all leaders are made…mostly by themselves.