What comes to your mind if you hear the word “leadership”? When talking about leadership, people think of Jack Welch, Martin Luther King, or Nelson Mandela, individuals who have led large corporations, movements or countries. Individual leadership, however, starts with the person. Who would want to follow you, if you would not be willing to follow yourself?
Leaders feel in control of their environment. They have a can-do attitude. This always reminds me of the Wayne Dyer story about his experience with Ducks and Eagles in customer service. Ducks quack and complain; eagles soar and make a difference. Ducks and Eagles are prevalent everywhere. Not too long ago, I was working 16hrs a day with a client to make a deadline. It was 7:30 AM and we got a call from the person delivering breakfast. The client asked one of the administrative staff, who happened to walk by, if she could open the door for the delivery person. Although the staff person did open the door, the initial comment was “I don’t get paid until 8 AM”. Quack, quack!
Think about the qualities of leadership and how it starts with you:
- Visionary: leaders have a clear vision of the future and where they want to go
- Inspirational: leaders are able to inspire themselves and others to succeed
- Strategic: leaders keep the big picture in mind
- Focused: leaders are result oriented and are self-disciplined
- Accountability: leaders take responsibility for their actions and those of their team. They hold themselves and their team accountable, while not playing the blame game
- People-centric: leaders want to help/serve, be empathetic, listen, express patience and give praise to others
- Decisive: leaders make decisions when the situation calls for it
- Open to feedback: leaders are dedicated to lifelong learning.
Every individual within an organization should exercise leadership from time to time, under circumstances where their particular knowledge, skills, and circumstances make it advantageous to do so. Leadership comes down to not only conviction and commitment, but most of all the passion to get something done and influence others to join in.
Leadership is NOT about hierarchy or your title. To be able to lead, you have to show personal competence and earn the trust and respect of others. Which brings us to the core of leadership: people and relationships.
So what can you do?
- Build relationships. Take the time to get to know people, their passions and competencies.
- Don’t take or make it personal. Leave your ego at home and focus on the facts, not emotions.
- Keep an open mind. Change is given, so be prepared to entertain new ideas, directions or solutions.
- Find a mentor. Having someone you respect and admire to bounce off ideas or obtain advice is crucial for continuous learning.
- Have a sense of humor. Most of us spend the majority of our time on this earth at work, so better make sure we have some fun while we are at it.
We are our own worst enemies. As human beings, we have a tendency to set our own imaginary restrictions, and thus avoid taking action. In the current economic times, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and not in control. Keep in mind you always have choices. As Theodore Roosevelt said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” There is only one choice that befits a leader.