Someone is always watching you. Whether you like it or not you are leading. The question though is whether or not you are leading people in a good way or in a bad way. It’s not what you say that counts as much as what you do and it’s not what you do in public that counts as much as what you do when you think no one is looking! Often it is the small things that we think are insignificant that are actually the things which have the most impact on people’s lives. The "Do as I say, not as I do" philosophy is nonsense. Even if you expect them to do as you say, they will find it very difficult not to do as you do. It is a double standard which will only cause people to be discouraged and feel insecure or betrayed.
You are a leader. Full stop. If you are alive and breathing you are leading someone unless of course you are the Unabomber who lived alone in a remote cabin. I wonder who his leader was? Parenting is leadership, have a job is leadership and going to church is leadership. You can lead whilst doing the grocery shopping or eating with your family at McDonalds.
If you are a parent take time to observe your children. They act as little mirrors that will show you exactly who you really are. Unfortunately they didn’t come up with their bad points all by themselves, they learned them from you. Equally, if you notice something good about them then you can also assume that they got it from you. I have learned so much about myself by observing my children and having the courage to face the things in me that I noticed in them.
You can do the same exercise if you lead a team. No one in your team can rise above your personal constraints and the best way to find out what these constraints are is by asking your team to tell you. Watch your team, take time to observer them, see their weaknesses and strengths and then see if there is anything you can learn from them so that you can improve and take them forward with you.
Natural Leaders Do the Right Things
"Managers Do Things Right. Leaders Do the Right Things"
- Peter F. Drucker, Management Consultant
Talk is cheap. Let’s just put that out there right from the start. Everyone can talk but few people do what they talk about. It takes courage to step out and do great things, to risk failure and embarrassment. How many people do you know that have big dreams? How many people do you know that are living a big life? There is a vast difference between the two I am sure because it’s easy to talk about big things but much more difficult to step out and do the things that you talk about. People watch you and will quickly see whether you are a talker or a doer. After a talker has exhausted his audience they will begin to switch off and stop believing in anything he has to say. Decide to keep your mouth shut until you are sure that you are ready to take the plunge or else those that you want to follow you and support you will not take your seriously.
Managers are the next level of leadership. These are leaders that are under authority and follow the instruction of the leaders. A good manager will do what the leader says with excellence, they will do it right. If you manage people you will lead well by demonstrating submission to your leader. Monkey see, monkey do! Leading in this way will mean that you won’t necessarily have to tell your team to do certain things or act in a certain way. They will do as you do. Whatever you want them to do, make sure that you are doing it first. If you want them to behave a certain way, make sure that you are behaving that way too.
An excellent leader can be in any position within an organisation and whatever their position they will always rise to the top. Leaders lead without having a title or being told to do so. Just because someone has a title doesn’t make them an excellent leader at all. You can be the cleaner at the Microsoft Corporation and have better leadership skills than their top dog. So let’s recap:
- Don’t need a title to lead
- Don’t need to be asked to lead
- Don’t seek promotion but will always rise to the top
- Do rather than talk about doing
- Submit to their leader
“Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”
1 Peter 5:2-4
1 Peter 5:2-4
Intentional Leaders Make the Right Changes
"Insanity Is Doing The Same Thing Over And Over Again and Expecting Different Results".
- Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist
The natural leader list contains some of the characteristics that will define a natural leader. Some people are just natural leaders and others have to learn to lead. If you want to learn to lead with excellence then start with making the list true about you. Work on each point until it becomes natural to you. Remember, even while you are working on becoming an excellent leader, others are watching you and will be influenced by your journey.
A leader will do the right things! They understand leadership principles and they understand how to get the most out of their team. Knowing that you are leading and being intentional in your leadership makes the best leaders. Now that you know you want to lead, the next step is to lead intentionally. When you lead intentionally by example, you make it easy for others to follow you, you clear the path for them. An intentional leader will understand the importance of self development. They will spend a portion of their day or week on growing themselves. To inspire others to be more means that you too need to be constantly growing and changing. Taking others with you on your journey, taking others under your wing, is important to you as you are as passionate about developing others as you are about developing yourself. In fact, you understand the responsibility and weight of leadership and your motivation is to be a leader for the sake of others. You do this by making yourself available to mentor others.
One key quality of intentional leaders is their integrity. Truth and honesty are extremely important to these leaders and they can be trusted by all who follow them because of this quality. A leader without integrity has the same results as building on quicksand – you will get nowhere fast and end up with nothing. Integrity is much more than telling the truth. There is something about leaders with integrity that seems pure, trustworthy and reliable. Integrity can be learned and is constantly grown and developed within a leader. Learn from people like this, it’s OK to be an imitator of someone who inspires you to be more. So let’s recap:
- Work at personal growth
- Recognise the responsibility of leadership
- Include others on their journey
- Act with integrity
- Are available to mentor others
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
Excellent Leaders Know Who They Are
"Leadership begins with knowing who you are and what you believe"
- LaRae Quy, FBI Agent
Authenticity is essential for all leaders regardless of their station in life. The best leaders are those who are fully in touch with themselves, they know who they are and they refuse to compromise what they know to be true about them. This centeredness gives them the ability to help others uncover the truth about who they really are. Leading business thinker and one of the bestselling authors of the last decade, Tom Rath, said, “You cannot be anything you want to be—but you can be a lot more of who you already are.” Authenticity is about being you and excellent leadership is about being the best possible version of you. Leaders who take their role seriously are also serious about their vision. It’s easy to follow authentic leaders as everything about them will be real leaving you with confidence in them and the path they are leading you on. Authentic leaders are passionate and have a purpose to their life. They also tend to be balanced and enjoy all aspects of their life. Personal values are important to excellent leaders and they will not compromise them to please others.
An excellent leader will always bring out the best in you and inspire you to be more because they understand that they lead not to make themselves great but for the sake of others. Leaders who do their job well will do themselves out of a job. They will make the student better than the teacher thereby creating successors and a legacy. Sadly, some leaders make it all about themselves, they may achieve something great for a brief period of time but it is never sustainable and once they die or fall it ends with them because they didn’t invest in anyone else.
Humility characterises a truly excellent leader. Those that are bossy, domineering and overbearing may achieve a measure of success in the short term but the patient, humble and kind leader can achieve so much more. Don’t mistake humility or kindness for weakness. It takes more strength to have these characteristics than it does to be a dominating leader. It’s easy to boss someone around and force them to do what you want them to do. To bring out the best in someone resulting in the results you want is not easy at all and requires excellent leadership skills.
Becoming you sounds silly as you are already you, but are you really you? Too many of us are defined by many external things such as what people say about us or what they think of us. Our identity can be wrapped up in the wrong things leaving us unsure of who we really are. Here are some guidelines:
1. Know Your Strengths
Observe yourself in various situations and take time to know your true strengths. Use these strengths as they will come naturally to you and require minimal effort. Life will be a lot less tiring when you learn to operate from a place of strength.
2. Manage Your Weaknesses
Weaknesses have the potential to become strengths if you work at them. You don’t have to be good at everything though and accepting some weaknesses could take a load from your shoulders. Manage the weaknesses that you are aware of so that they don’t drain you, your potential and those around you.
3. Know What You Believe
Changing your core beliefs every five minutes in order to fit in can be exhausting. Decide what is important to you and what you believe to be true and stand by these beliefs whether or not people agree with you. Your beliefs can guide you through difficult patches and assist you with difficult decisions.
4. Value Truth
No matter who you are leading you should value truth for your own integrity. Truth always wins and leading with truth will always make you head and shoulders above leaders who lack integrity. Seek to know the truth and learn to love the truth. Perhaps the most famous verse about truth in the Bible is what Jesus said “… I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
5. Know Your Values
Your values are your principles, standards and morals. People respect leaders who show clear values and who don’t compromise them. People pleasers tend to compromise their values but strong leaders will not slide in this area.
Discovering your authentic leadership requires a commitment to developing yourself. So let’s recap:
- Are authentic
- Are humble
- Have vision, passion and purpose
- Don’t overwork but lead a balanced life
- Inspire you to be more
“Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain.” Titus 1:7
Exceptional Leaders Create an Experience
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
- Maya Angelou, Author
Top level leaders understand that how you make people feel is the most important part of leadership. You can say something in a way that makes people feel bad or you can say exactly the same thing in a way that makes people feel good. Obviously people like to feel good! A common quote on the subject states, "We learn 10 percent of what we read, 20 percent of what we hear, 30 percent of what we see, 50 percent of what we see and hear, 70 percent of what we discuss with others, 80 percent of what we experience, and 95 percent of what we teach to someone." Take time to create an experience for those you are leading. Develop your skill in this area and be intentional about making people feel good about what you are saying and what you are doing. Even if you are not directly leading someone, those observing you will observe how you feel about what you are doing and will be impacted accordingly. If you are enjoying the journey they will want to follow you but if you are grumpy, complaining and always saying how hard it is then you will find no one queuing up to follow you.
An exceptional leader is a good communicator and understands the importance of listening... a lot! Listening is the most important part of excellent communication as you must be willing to understand the needs and desires of others by asking questions and being open minded enough to consider all options. In general, people like to talk about themselves and if they are struggling with something they like to talk a lot about the struggle and how it makes them feel. Don’t cut them off, allow them to talk and by doing so you will win their favour and when you need to talk they are more likely to listen to what you have to say. You don’t need to say much to lead well but you do need to have a listening ear to get people to follow you. Showing that you care for someone is more important than showing someone what you care about. Once they know that you care for them then they will be likely to hear you.
- Create an experience
- Teach others
- Communicate clearly
- Listen attentively
- Genuinely care
“Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” James 3:1
People are Watching You So Make Sure You:
People are Watching You So Make Sure You:
Only ask people to do what you would be willing to do yourself.
Only set rules that you are willing to observe yourself.
Only treat others as you would have them treat you.
Always take the blame, if it’s someone you are leading then it’s always your responsibility.
Always give credit where credit is due even if it’s a stretch
Always reflect the credit onto someone else rather than absorbing it all for yourself