Your growth as a leader starts right now wherever you are at this very moment. You don’t have to be president of a billion-dollar company to be a leader. You can begin with your present relationships, your family and friends, your community associations, your school or your place of work. Developing your leadership skills can prepare you for larger challenges in the future.
If I were to ask you to think of leaders you admired and those who had an influence on your life, who would come to mind? How about your parents or a particular teacher or coach who had a significant influence on you? Or maybe a mentor at work?
For most of us, leadership is a day-to-day matter of how we strive to do our best, as well as how we get others to do their very best. Leadership involves our responsibilities at work, in the community, at church or in our families.
Great leaders are often all around us. Very often, it is people closest to us who are doing great deeds with little means. The seeds of greatness exist in any of us who strive to lead, even in the most modest undertakings.
It’s quite possible that, until now, you haven’t really considered yourself a leader of any kind. Whether that’s so, you may be surprised to learn just how many ways you, indeed, are a leader, especially to those closest to you. You could be a leader to a group or maybe only one or two people. It could be in your work, in a special interest you have or perhaps the quality of a relationship you have with someone, such as your children or loved ones. There are people around you looking up to you, believing in you as a role model and as a leader.
Believe me when I say you are already a leader in ways you may not be fully aware. Never underestimate the influence you have on the lives of others.
“The ability we have to make our world better starts with how we live our life.”
Let me assure you that this is the very moment you have vast power to help shape the lives of others, especially if you choose to lead by example. Never forget this: At least once every day, try to ask yourself whether your life is setting a good example for others to follow. This is part of the contribution you can make to change others’ lives for the better. The ability we have to make our world better starts with how we live our life and the example we set for others. Think about how your vision of the future may be pointing the way for others. Think about people for whom you might be a role model and in what ways you are setting examples for them.
To expand your abilities as a leader, become the kind of person others want to follow. You must demonstrate the leadership qualities others are attracted to and are likely to emulate. Leaders must be able to communicate their visions of the future to other people.
You don’t have to be a spellbinding orator to be a good leader, but you must be able to express your thoughts clearly, in an orderly way, and to speak forcefully enough that your listeners understand you mean what you say.
Developing the efficiency of good listening habits will not only help you hear more, but will help you understand more completely the information conveyed to you. Nothing will enhance your reputation as a leader more than being willing to listen. Remember that listening, not imitation, is really the sincerest form of flattery.
I have developed a list of several other attributes identified in good leaders that I want to pass along to you. As you read each one, consider which ones already apply to you and those you’d like to apply:
A Good Leader…
- Accepts responsibility and takes it seriously.
- Seeks out and listens to others, but makes up his or her own mind.
- Wants to leave the world better than he or she finds it.
- Has a genuine interest in others: their joys, sorrows, hopes, hurts, needs and fears.
- Learns from the past, but focuses on the future.
- Aims to be of service to others.
- Expects the best from others, as from him or herself.
- Learns from role models, but knows who he or she is.
- Knows the power of yes and no and when to say so.
- Knows how to set goals and pursue them.
- Is dedicated to his or her work and achieving goals.
- Is not deterred by detractors or naysayers.
- Admits errors, accepts failures, learns from them and moves on.
- Is not always right, but is right more than wrong.
- Imparts the moral tone to his or her enterprise.
- Is honest and strives to be fair.
- Is enthusiastic and optimistic about succeeding.
- Motivates others with trust and belief in them.
The demand for leaders is always greater than the supply because most would rather be led than lead. Opportunities are always close at hand. Great leaders are motivated by purposes larger than self-interest.
Finally, remember that leaders prepare others to assume their roles. They want their vision to be sustained. Someone once commented to Walt Disney’s nephew, Roy, that it was a shame his uncle didn’t live long enough to see all that he started. Roy Disney replied, “Sir, my uncle was the first to see all of this. We are just building the vision he had years ago.”
Robert Stuberg is an entrepreneur, speaker, consultant and best-selling author of many books, including The 12 Life Secrets, Creating Your Ultimate Destiny and Sell and Grow Rich. Stuberg specializes in helping people find and apply their unique talent—the one thing that they are meant to do.
This post was originally published in January 2009. It has since been updated for freshness and accuracy.
Photo by @bea.revay/Shutterstock