How to Be a Leader

What does it take for someone to be a leader? Some people believe that you must be born with it. I beleive that everyone is called to a certain station of leadership in life. While it may be true that some people possess a natural ability towards leadership, it can be learned. Like anything else, you get better at it with practice. My commanding theme in my work is to help eveyone acknowledge and accept the leadership that each has been naturally called to.

One of the key features of a leader is to lead by example. Our society has gotten too used to the idea that leaders simply bark orders at people. They expect people to follow those orders without the willingness to do the tasks themselves. Leaders need to be the captains of the ship and be willing to go down with the ship. This means taking ownership of that which you are called to lead. Just because someone does something you tell them to do doesn’t necessarily mean they consider you the leader. There is a difference betweeen leading and managing.

Another role of a leader is to take responsibility for your actions. Don’t pass the blame onto others. If you assume or accept a leadership role, then you will be looked upon to guide those you lead. Own up to your mistakes and figure out alternative courses of action when needed. Plus, think about a time where you interacted wiht someone in leadership that said… “Ooops, my bad” with authenticity. Did you increase your respect for them or was it more like contempt? If they were an effective leader, chances are you appreciate them more.

A leader should also have a vision for their organization. You should know what you are trying to accomplish and figure out how you are going to get there. To continue with the captain of the ship analogy, you need to map out a route to take the ship.

When you are leading others, you need to display confidence. When people view you as a confident leader, they will do whatever you ask of them. There is a difference between confidence and arrogance. Be careful not to confuse the two even though they sometimes can cross. I like to think that confidence is a personal energy that helps you be open to new ideas but have strength in who you are and your position.

Leaders are allowed to make mistakes. How they recover from those mistakes defines their ability to lead. If you hide from the problem, you will lose the confidence that others have placed in you. Face up to the adversity of the situation and figure out how to handle it. This can require some tough decisions, but that is part of the role of the leader.

Leaders should listen to the people they are leading. If you take the approach that you are always right, you will set the stage for a group of yes people. What this means is you will need to be responsible for every decision, even the ones that you thought you were delegating. Hire the right people and let them do their jobs. Listen to their concerns. Listening to others does not imply caving into their demands. You simply need to take what others say into consideration.

These are just a few ideas and thoughts on leadership… afterall… there is a whole book I wrote on the subject. 😉

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