Thursday, June 14, 2012

5 Ways to Become a Better Leader Today

Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.
Albert Schweitzer
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams
Becoming a great leader.  It's one of the hardest and best achievements in life. 

The good news is that with practice anyone can LEARN to LEAD.  It doesn't matter how many people, where or when you lead, PRACTICE the character traits below and watch your influence grow.
  1. Be self-aware.  Do you know your greatest strengths and weaknesses?  If not, you need to find out - now!  Ask the people who work for you these simple questions.  How did I help you last week?  How did I get in the way?  How can I be a better leader/mentor/coach to you?  It is HARD to hear negative feedback from others but you must if you want to become a better leader.  Use constructive criticism to enhance your leadership and your humanity.
  2. Be humble.  All of the best leaders realize that the people they lead know best - 90% of the time.  That is why you hired them!  Your job is NOT to be the smartest guy or gal in the room.  Your job is to check your ego at the door and create the ENVIRONMENT to unleash the talents of others and help them succeed.  
  3. Be honest.  It sounds simplistic but if you want to create an open, constructive, honest culture  at your organization, be open, constructive and honest!  Be willing to say what is true ESPECIALLY when it is hard.  If you don't model this type of behavior as a person in a position of power and authority you CANNOT expect your employees to do the same.
  4. Be brave.  Even the most seasoned leaders are HUMAN and we all get tripped up by pride, fear and loss.  If you are doing it right, leadership WILL feel uncomfortable at times.  You will be unpopular.  You will step out and say the things that no one wants to hear.  You will make mistakes - big and small.  Have heart; be brave.  If you are not living on the edge you probably aren't leading.
  5. Be trustworthy - People do not follow people who are duplicitous.  (Look at the zeitgeist about Congress.)  Sure, your employees may do what you say to get a paycheck but that does not mean that they are truly invested in their work, trust you and are loyal.  Say what you are going to do and do what you say.  And admit your mistakes.  (See Step 4.)  This will give your employees/neighbors/constituents the confidence they need to know that your word is your vow and they can and should follow you.
Leadership is no small feat and that is why so few of us do it well.  It's also an incredible privilege and opportunity.

Whether you lead a team of 0 or 20 you can become a better leader now.  Practice the characteristics above and watch your influence grow.




Zack Rosenberg said...

I often wonder if leaders are born or made. The argument I use a lot is that athletes are born, so why not leaders/entrepreneurs.

That being said, the difference might be opportunity. Inspiration comes (I think) from finding folks who are as passionate about something as you are then getting them to go in the same direction.

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