Find the Leader In You!
Leadership is something that we often talk about but what exactly makes someone a leader? And a Good Leader? For those of us who are more shy we may not think about ourselves as a leader, but odds are that there is a Leader in you. 🙂
A Leader is an interesting concept as for someone to be a leader, it will not only involve your personal and/or professional characteristics or your job title or responsibilities, but must also involve the buy-in of others that allows us to influence and guide them towards a common goal. According to Forbes (2013): “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.”
So what would make someone a “Good Leader”? There are many great leaders that we can recall from the past and present, such as Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Bill Clinton. But what do they all have in common? There are some personal characteristics and interpersonal styles that are going to lend to persons being more likely to be someone of influence in our communities.
- Genuineness – honesty and openness is something that is important to many of us in order to build trust and respect. We want to know that we can believe in and rely on someone who is going to influence us and our friends, family and/or workplace. This is established through open discussions and consistency – you are who you are who you are. People are very good at discerning when someone is being disingenuous or fake, so even if you make a mistake, own it and work through it with your team; you are only human and this will maintain the trust and rapport already established.
- Purposeful – we need to know where we are going before we can lead others there. Finding a purpose or a passion that you believe in can be a guiding star for your life and will help everything else to fall into place. If you are working with a designated team then encouraging others to give some ideas and assist with formulating goals can help to establish more solid goals. Also, when we all have a say in what we are working on, we will have better ideas and a greater investment by all persons involved.
- Confidence – if you don’t believe in you, then why should anyone else? This is often a more difficult quality to cultivate but, like a muscle, it is one that gets stronger the more we work on it. Confidence comes from experience by helping us to learn our strengths and what works (and doesn’t work) in our efforts towards our goals. We can do this by reflecting on our experiences and acknowledging, honestly, what went well and what could be done differently the next time.
- Effective Communication – once we have people’s trust, it is important that we are able to share our message in a way that is helpful, so that everyone can understand. Communication in particular is a skill that takes practice and refinement and we have to be able and willing to make adjustments as necessary to reach the audience or persons of interest in each situation. This will involve being able to explain what the goals are, how you hope to get there and what is needed of each person/team, sharing in a way that is clear and respectful so that a two-way conversation can ensue with feedback and re-assessment as needed. For more information on Communication, click here.
- Identify, Acknowledge and Build the Strengths of Your Team – these days we look for “Transformational Leaders” and these are persons who are able to work well with a diverse team by recognizing, highlighting and playing too the strengths of each team member. Leaders cannot do it all themselves, and good leaders know that they are most effective when they know and trust their team and can effectively delegate tasks that come up. Getting input and feedback from your team means that you will work better together towards your goals and allowing team members opportunities to contribute and take on more responsibility means that they will continue to grow and build skills and confidence.
So where do you start? Identify your strengths and leadership style. What makes you you and what makes you good at what you do? What do you enjoy? What do you care about? What is your best way to encourage and inspire others? Build on your strengths and don’t be afraid to take risks – we grow the most when we step outside of our comfort zone! However, the flipside is also true, while it is good to take some risks, don’t be afraid to set limits as needed for yourself and others. Everyday is a new opportunity for change and a chance to create a movement for something that you believe in.
Ready. Set. Breathe. And Lead!
Reference: Forbes Magazine “Top 10 Qualities that Make a Great Leader” at <http://www.forbes.com/sites/tanyaprive/2012/12/19/top-10-qualities-that-make-a-great-leader/>