There are so many opportunities in life to develop and grow leadership skills and abilities. Unfortunately, leadership opportunities often pull out of the station with no passengers on board! That’s because people don’t recognize them for what they are or are too filled with fears, or fragile vulnerabilities. Often, we lack the backbone to seize these opportunities and gain the practical experience and life lasting benefit that they offer.
Just because you have a title or position, it doesn’t make you a leader. If you are ducking leadership opportunities or avoiding them because of the challenge or difficulties they present, you are not a leader! However, if you are on the path to becoming an authentic leader, certain activities will be taking place. You will be engaging in tasks that stretch you and you will be feeling the discomfort that comes along with personal growth. There are some basic ways to measure your success as a leader. If you want to earn the trust, respect and admiration of the people that you supposedly lead there are some basic codes of conduct that you need to aspire to and there are some changes that will be taking place within. Want to keep a score card or have a way of measuring your progress? Watch for these indicators:
- Recognizing that those who expect more or the most from you are not your enemies, they are the ones who are going to force you to be brutally honest with yourself and grow your skills and depth as a leader (It is people who expect little or nothing who are the true enemies of your professional development)
- Keeping lines of communication open especially with those who test and challenge you
- Being honest with yourself if you are overly sensitive, too emotional or easily offended (Strive to build up your tolerance level so you toughen up and become more emotionally resilient)
- Acknowledging problems, difficult people, challenging situations but not allowing them to continue to fester
- Dealing with conflict head on rather than ignoring it or sweeping it under the carpet in hopes that it will disappear
- Taking ownership of circumstances and situations and acting with determination to ensure that when you move on that you do so by leaving things in a better state for your successor
- Consistent, positive encouragement and recognition of team members
- Providing information and situational analysis that develops strategic thinking in yourself and in others
- Setting goals based on a clear vision that guides each individual on your team towards that goal
- Gentle persuasion (the velvet hammer) and a diplomatic approach that is gauged appropriately to the individual
- Won’t ask anyone to do anything or take on any task that you aren’t willing to take on yourself – Talk the talk and walk the walk
- Set the example through your own words and actions
- Make decisive decisions that are in the best interests of those that you serve and then execute by following through to ensure that people have confidence and faith in you as a leader
Gutsy organizations have their people evaluate leadership performance up through the chain of command. Courageous leaders keep their finger on the pulse of those that they lead and want to know how their leadership is perceived and impacting the team and the organization. They want honest feedback and they aren’t afraid to hear it!
Just because you have a leadership or management title, doesn’t make people WANT to follow you. If you aren’t doing anything above and beyond what the rest of the pack is doing then you aren’t a leader. As a matter of fact you are a poser, part of the herd, a fake, a phony! You are a mere figure head. The word lead means, to go before or with to show the way and you cannot do any of these by blending into the background, keeping your head low or by avoiding the responsibilities or challenges that come along with the expectations of leadership. If you don’t stand up, stand out, take chances, take charge and do whatever it takes to get the job done, then that isn’t leadership!
“You can’t teach what you don’t know and you can’t lead where you won’t go.”