Have you always believed that leaders are born that way and that those that weren’t blessed to be standing in the leader line at creation are just tough out of luck?
Are you one of the people who takes two steps back in the crowd when the hard decisions need to be made and pray to God that someone else will step forward and lead the team to victory? Or, perhaps you do step up reluctantly but are secretly waiting for that knight in shining armor to show up and take the job away so you can breathe a sigh of relief?
I have some news that may be hard for you to hear.
In order for you to successfully run your own business, create the dream life you have always wanted, or to discover the authentic person stirring deep inside of you, stepping into your leadership abilities isn’t just a good idea–it’s mandatory.
Does that thought fill you with a measure of dread and despair? Is hopelessness your first response?
It doesn’t have to be. You can become the leader you need to be in order to become successful.
Defining and polishing your leadership skills takes awareness, hard work and practice, but it is just as possible as reaching any other goal you set your mind to. The first step is to stop taking for granted that some people have “IT” and you don’t and never will. Breaking through that illusion and opening your eyes to the possibility of developing new leadership skills is a huge first step. Being open to change is already change in itself.
Next–let’s get a handle on what this elusive “IT” of leadership power actually is so that you can begin working on developing some for yourself.
What Leaders Have in Common
Leaders listen first, second and last: Leaders are always listening. They are listening for trends, troubles, mysteries, inspirations, things that are said, and things that are left unsaid. Leaders listen deeply and they translate what they hear into creations, inventions, solutions, visions and victories.
Leaders ask questions until they are clear: Leaders question everything until they have sifted away the clutter to discover the necessary facts and answers to make a decision. They don’t settle for foggy information and uncertainty. They don’t worry about looking stupid for not knowing the answers. They keep asking until they do. They demand clarity.
Leaders trust their instincts: Leaders have integrity and strong core values that guide them. Therefore, when that small still voice inside of them whispers, or shouts, they sit up and listen. They don’t have to wonder if it is giving good advice because it is coming from ethical, strong core values that don’t shift when the going gets rough.
Leaders take action: Leaders are decisive once they have gathered the facts. They don’t wait around taking popularity polls or waiting to see which way the wind is going to blow. They take clear action based on vision, integrity, and what is right for the good of the cause and they rarely look back. They are forward-focused.
Leaders make commitments: Leaders can be trusted to keep their word and be dependable to do what they agreed to do and come through. Their word is their bond and their promise is as good as a contract.
Leaders build strong relationships: Leaders understand that to lead, you not only need those that follow, but those that walk along beside you. A true leader empowers other people to reach their own levels of greatness and cheers them on proudly.
Leaders dare to fail: Leaders put aside their egos and fearlessly face failure time and time again in order to learn, grow and accept new challenges. Leaders know that to stay in their comfort zones and play it safe is the sure fire way to lose. To win, one must be willing to take risks and learn.
What Do You Have in Common With These Leaders?
Nobody embodies all of these qualities all the time, every single day. Some days, hanging on to even one or two may seem like a struggle. Yet, every single one of them on the list are habits, not character traits. And habits can be made, broken or changed and improved upon. So that means the good news is that as you were reading down that list, if you felt like you couldn’t put a check mark against each and every one of them for each and every day…cheer up. Every single one of these habits can be improved with focus and attention.
Begin at the Beginning.
Remember our rules of change that we have discussed before.
- Teeny Tiny Steps. Pick only one at a time to focus on. Spend thirty days really paying attention to it. Journal it. Read articles about it, make yourself reminder notes. Keep it at the forefront of your mind for the entire month until it becomes a part of your habits.
- Practice Grace. When you mess up, be kind to yourself and begin again. You get a do over. Leaders also don’t shame people or beat each other up. Themselves included.
- Celebrate your victories. Be proud of your newfound skill. Especially these skills. They are SO important. These are the skills that will change your life forever.