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Have you ever looked in the mirror and asked yourself “Who Are You As A Leader?”
If not then perhaps you thought you could do a better job as a leader than your Boss?
No matter the organization, leadership requires some key characteristics. In order to be successful as a leader, you must fulfill several roles such as:
- be knowledgeable
- be a great communicator
- team builder
- be able to implement change
- be a motivator
- be a disciplinarian
Wikipedia describes leadership as “both a research area and a practical skill encompassing the ability of an individual or organization to “lead” or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations.”
In order to fully evaluate your effectiveness as a leader, you must first determine “Who Are You As A Leader“. In other words what beliefs or traits do you have that cause others to follow you.
Like finding your way out of a forest we first need to know where we are before we can improve.
Who Are You
I firmly believe that in order to be an effective leader you first need to answer the basic question of “who are you“.
It is imperative we do some serious self-evaluation. Only once we have a thorough understanding of who we are and what we believe, only then are we capable of teaching or leading others.
We are not capable of effectively leading in ways that conflict with who we really are.
Simply put we can’t be someone we are not, it just won’t work out, at least not for very long. Sooner or later our true self will emerge.
Taking the time required for some self-analysis will be time well spent and understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you become a more effective leader.
Are You a Leader or a Follower
It is important to fully understand yourself and know whether you tend to be a leader or a follower.
A lot of people mistakenly believe that you must always be a good leader.
The fact is that to be a truly effective leader you need to understand there are times you need to strongly lead but there are also times you need to follow.
There will be times your team will be looking to you for leadership and you will need to have honed your skills to effectively take the helm and lead them safely to the finish.
Other times you will be seeking leadership from those above you or you could be grooming a young leader in which case it makes sense to step back and let them lead, offering guidance when needed.
By maintaining a healthy balance between being a leader and being a follower you will be effectively show-casing your abilities as a strong leader.
Whether within a large organization or starting your own business, these skills of knowing when to lead and when to follow will serve you well in your chosen career path.
How to Develop Leadership Qualities
So you have determined who you are, what is important to you and you have determined that you are both a leader and a follower depending on what the situation requires.
You now need to see yourself as an effective leader and develop the following traits:
- become a great communicator– while being a great speaker is necessary, it is much more important to be an effective listener. It is through active listening that we learn what our people need from us (how we can help them). In this day and age you must master the art of communication in all its forms:
- virtual (online)
- be an expert – you don’t need to know everything but you do need to be an expert at knowing where to find answers
- be curious – it is a known fact that the best leaders are constantly learning. Every situation becomes a learning opportunity
- be a teacher rather than a BOSS – the most effective leaders gain the respect of their subordinates by teaching rather than by dictating. The teaching inspires others to try harder
- ask for help when needed – you gain respect by asking for help rather than trying to go it alone and not succeeding
- don’t be afraid of failure – you understand that failure is merely a learning curve, understand that making mistakes is how we learn best
Continuously Strive for Improvement
The greatest leaders are continuously striving to improve. Every day, they are looking for ways to become better, smarter, more effective.
Effective leaders are voracious readers. They consume books at an incredible rate because they fully understand why reading is important to success.
Not only do they read the books, but they also internalize the knowledge and find ways to apply it in both their personal and business lives.
Effective leaders always start their day with at least 30 minutes of reading which keeps them informed on:
- world events
- changes within their respective industries
- leadership strategies
A few of my personal favourite books on leadership are:
- Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- The Quick & Easy Way To Effective Speaking by Dale Carnegie
Who Are You As A Leader is largely dependent upon who you are as a person. We need to be true to ourselves and our core beliefs in order to be truly effective as leaders.
Being a great leader means you must also be a great follower, the trick is in knowing which to be in any given situation.
Effective leaders lead from the front, meaning they set the example (they do it first). They don’t just tell you what to do, they show you by doing it themselves first.
They are clear and concise when giving instructions and they listen to all points of view before making a decision.
Leaders are not afraid to make the tough decisions if/when it is warranted.
The best leaders are very adept at seeing things from the other person’s point of view (walking in the other person’s shoes) and rejoice in their team’s every success no matter how small it may seem.
I firmly believe that by developing these skills everyone has the potential to be a leader, only those who continuously strive to improve will become great, effective leaders.
Remember, all great leaders were great followers.
Thanks for dropping by, please share your views on leadership in the comment section below.
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