I truly believe there is a tremendous lack of leadership in today’s world. This shouldn’t be so. You can’t underestimate the power of a great leader. Great leaders make the impossible seem possible. Some folks think leaders are born; some think they are developed. I happen to think it is a little bit of both.
Leadership traits exist within all of us, regardless of what position we hold in our work or at home. We all have the ability to make some great choices in tough situations as well as make pro-active choices to keep ourselves from getting into a bind. Regardless of the situation, location or time, the power remains in your hands.
I am confident anyone can work to improve to their leadership skill set. The traits needed to be a successful leader apply to all at every level. Here are some of the steps you need to digest and work on.
1. Plan From Passion, Not Fear
Leaders are vital in encouraging the team, keeping enthusiasm high, and motivating everyone to set their best foot forward. In order to be these things and more, you as a leader need to be passionate about what you are working on. It sounds simple but you need to be genuinely passionate about the subject matter at hand. It is not something you can fake. When you are passionate about the project, you are naturally more knowledgeable on the topic and can work out frustrating situations with ease.
Being fearless is one the most important traits of a leader. Not being afraid to try or act on something different gives you the ability to drive results. Sometimes we are faced with situations that involve customers, employees or friends and we back down in a corner out of fear, even when we believe we are right. Being a great leader means not being afraid to confront issues and situations from an analytical standpoint while keeping control of the situation. If you are afraid of confrontation or the outcome of a situation prior to engaging the situation, you need to work on your leadership skills.
2. Create A Vision
Knowing where you are going and what the bigger picture looks like is key to creating a path to get there. You can’t create outcomes if you don’t know what success looks like for you and your team, knowing what the final outcome looks like and where you fit in is a trait that is missing in many leaders.
You need to be able to provide direction for the team, to focus their efforts towards the goal so they aren’t lead astray. If the project isn’t specific, allow everyone to choose their own path to the finish line. This way they can express their individuality and feel a sense of freedom with their work. The end result will always be a better product and you know it was due to your great team and leadership skills.
3. Have Confidence
Your attitude is something you have complete control of and will influence everything you do in life. A positive attitude helps build confidence. You must have a strong self-worth and be confident in your abilities, without being arrogant or cocky. It sounds corny, but you have to feel good about yourself to be a good leader. No one is going to follow someone who doesn’t believe in themselves. Confidence comes from a sound work ethic and from being prepared. If you are going into a game and aren’t confident you can win; it’s because you know you didn’t do what was necessary to prepare!
4. Learn to Lead, Not Dictate
Compassion and empathy are extremely important to quality leadership. It is impossible to be selfish and be an effective leader. When your team knows you are a great listener and advisor, it makes everyone on the team feel more comfortable talking, not only to you, but one another. As a leader, you are someone they can rely on and trust. How can they do that if they’re unable to communicate their thoughts? The key point is to listen, understand, and try to answer their questions and comments to the best of your ability.
If you are able to show your understanding and appreciation, your team will be even more receptive towards contributing, helping, and sympathizing with the cause you are working for. If they understand that you appreciate how hard they are working, they will be willing to continue to work hard. Not only that, they will feel a sense of pride and achievement in all of their work.
It is often a forgotten topic as leaders are consumed by victory; we sometimes forget the team effort needed to win not once but multiple times. Great leadership includes finding talent, growing it to the expected level and trusting it to do a good job, so you can focus on other priorities. The key here is not to delegate work but rather train and create leaders out of others that will be right behind you and will be great elements of support. This is also great as it keeps you motivated to self improve and never allows those under you to surpass you.
5. Set High Standards
If you do everything to the best of your ability, then you can expect it from those you lead. If you are always on time, always work hard, and always put your heart and soul into every practice, workout, and game–then you can expect your teammates and players to do the same. But you have to believe your teammates and players can meet this standard. A good leader will motivate those they are leading to do so. You want to be the type of leader who raises the level of everyone around you. Set the bar high and then lead them to it!
Being a great leader isn’t difficult; it simply takes practice and desire. Many of us wake up with a feeling everyday that we have much more potential in ourselves than we are using and that the road ahead is quite bright while greater things await us. This feeling is what I call “the calling” and is nothing more than the real leader in you trying to tell you to act on what you already know. While it isn’t difficult to be a great leader, it is constant thinking and work and requires patience and common sense.