Leadership is a tricky thing and very misunderstood. It’s also a skill that can be learned, yet many are born with the mindset and natural traits of a real leader. A great leader can literally be anyone. There is no requirement to be wealthy, highly educated or of title. A leader can be male or female; rich or poor; any ethnicity and any age. Authority, position and title will not make you a leader.
If you are a business owner or would like to be one, one of your primary responsibilities is to be a leader and then to develop leaders. A leader is someone who gets people moving in a single direction and people trust. A friend of mine says “A LEADER is an architect of attitude”.
And just to clarify, the subject of leadership is a complicated topic, but what we’re reviewing here is pure street fighting, foundational leadership.
Lesson one is: Don’t worry about being a leader, worry about being a person worthy of being followed. As yourself right now, “If I worked for me, would I follow me?” Now be honest, this is a big, soul searching question. If the answer is yes, great. Get better at being a leader. If the answer is no, then you better start learning or find another job.
Here are some of my foundational LEADERSHIP traits worthy of frequent review:
- Attitude: How’s my attitude? We know that a full 85% of all success is ATTITUDE based. So, if you’re in a leadership position, the group, team and company go the way your attitude goes. As we learned in the classic business book, Think and Grow Rich, we are what we think about most of the time. What are you?
- Confidence: How is my confidence perceived? We also know that in today’s digital marketplace, there is NO reality. There is only the perception of reality. How are you perceived when it comes to the confidence that you display, or not? All leaders have the perception of extreme confidence. And, due to this, people want to work with them and have them on their team.
- Positive Encouragement: Am I a source of positive interaction? In the past, when employees or team members saw the boss coming, they ran and hid. This was a conditioned response because the boss was usually looking for someone doing something wrong. Today we know that a true leader is looking for someone doing something right. Employees welcome their leader because they know that they will be praised in public and disciplined in private. They want and sometimes even crave the praise and will work harder and be more loyal in hopes to earn the attention.
- Positive thought leadership: Do I believe in the objective with unwavering confidence in all I do and say? Again, as you are perceived, so goes the team. Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart was asked how the terrible U.S. economy had affected Wal-Mart? He is reported to have said, “It hasn’t. We chose not to participate!” Leaders are the people with the unwavering vision, who always keeps everyone pointed in the direction of specific goals. A leader sets the mindset of everyone around them.
- Master of adaption: Am I flexible and adaptable? Am I aware that everyone that I will come in contact with is different and in order to communicate and lead them, I must first adapt to them in ways that they are familiar? I must deal with every person differently, based on their personality profile in order to be a master communicator and an effective leader. They should never be forced to adapt to me.
- World Class Listener: Do I actively listen to my team and clients’ needs and understand them from their point of view? A leader is a master of asking versus telling. They listen to understand, and problem solve. This one trait will set you apart as an effective leader.
- Goal focused: Do I know what my companies, my teams, my own goals are? Do I have rock solid awareness of these goals and do I lead people to achieving these goals? A leader always knows what their objective is and usually has a decent idea on how to get there, but a leader is also flexible as things change!
- Willing to adapt and change: Am I flexible enough to change and reshape my objective based on market pressures and issues? Things will change and new objectives will block our path. The true leader is someone who will consider all input and perspectives and then make the hard decisions necessary to keep focused to their goal.
- Willing to earn respect: Am I willing to earn my teams respect, or do I demand it? The foundation of leadership is in earning the respect of your team and those around you.
- Coaching: Am I seen as a coach of those around me? John D. Rockefeller said, “Good leadership consists of showing average people how to do the work of superior people.”
There is always much more to discuss when it comes to the subject of leadership, but for now use this as your own personal checklist of foundational leadership principles. Whether you check it once a day, week or month…do it! Remember that leadership can come from anywhere and anyone and today more than ever, it is one of the most valuable skills that you can ever develop! Never stop learning how to lead yourself; Never stop learning how to lead others; Never stop learning how to lead the way and Never stop learning how to lead from your values and your heart!
So, what do you say? Let’s change the world, or at least your world!
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