Some people are natural born leaders. That’s a frequently heard statement. But are they really? There are people who are called leaders simply because they are in leadership positions. Then there are leaders that others want to follow and are thrust into leadership positions. You want to be a person that you would follow into the darkest nights and brightest days. When you would follow you, then you become a leader others will follow.
In a world of million dollar CEO’s making headlines on a daily basis, one has to question if those big buck leaders are inspiring others to follow them. If we held a leadership choice awards in your local area, where would you rank as a leader? Would you make the top 10, 25 or top 50? Ask yourself, are you inspiring others to follow you? Just being in a leadership position doesn’t mean others want to follow you. You have to earn it, work for it, be an active participant and take responsibility for what you do and say because others are watching you.
There is a huge misconception of leadership in today’s world due to social media, the “online” presence of someone and the celebrity of reality television. People follow people not because of their status or their ability to work a room, not because of the platitudes they ramble or their ability to BS with the best of them. People follow leaders who provide the most simplest of things to those around them. Things like respect, empathy, appreciation, embracing new ideas, openness, patience and even the ability to ask questions to understand.
Leaders who are passionate about the needs of others stand out. These leaders are concerned with what they provide to others more than their own needs. Their ego does not supercede their focus on serving others. It’s the character of the leader that places others before him or herself that makes others want to follow.
What character traits do good leaders need to create a following of people who will go into battle for them? There are many of them. Here are three we feel stand out in today’s complicated business world.
Be humble, share your weaknesses
Man’s ego is powerful. It can be used for good and for harm. Staying humble as a leader is the foundation for inspiring a following. No matter how long you have been in business, you are still learning, making mistakes and growing. When leaders are honest, share their weaknesses and admit their mistakes, they elevate their position. Others learn from the mistakes of leaders, especially when they admit them. Share how you overcame them. Be real. Stay humble because when you look back at those following you, remember that you were once the one following someone else.
Be empowering, lifting others
The word empower is a bit overused in today’s society but should still carry significant weight when it comes to good leadership. A leader who empowers others to succeed or reach their full potential will develop loyal team members. To empower someone is to make them stronger and more confident, giving them authority to do something, to contribute to their competence and satisfaction. When leaders empower others it’s like depositing a part of themselves into the other person, like a giving a small gift that keeps on giving.
Be appreciative, recognize others
No one gets to the top by themselves and no leader stays on top without the help of many others. Good leaders are keenly aware of this and make it a priority to show appreciation to the people that hold them up on a daily basis. Human desire for recognition is strong. Everyone loves a pat on the back, a shout out or "good job." Good leaders make the effort to give others the limelight, to share the stage. Sometimes, the smallest appreciation and recognition goes a long way; simple things like a day off, a handwritten note or a mention in a newsletter. The best of leaders do this often because showing appreciation is a form of humility and empowers others to be more productive and feel more satisfaction.
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