Are leaders born or made? If they are made, can anyone become a good leader?
If you want to become an effective leader, or if you are in a leadership role and want to heighten your team’s productivity, what can you do? How can you become the kind of leader that people look up to, turn to, go the extra mile for, and rely on to get things done?
The answer is – look to the leaders you admire and learn to do what they do. Study the characteristics they have in common and make their habits your own.
Primarily, good leaders have personal P.O.W.E.R., whether they are conscious of it or not. This doesn’t mean they lead by telling people what to do, although they might. Having personal power means having mastery of self, it means mastering certain behaviors and attitudes that, as a natural consequence, draw to you the people, talent, and opportunities you need to succeed. If you have a well-developed sense of personal power, by definition you are in a leadership role and you are a role model to those around you.
Developing your personal power takes work and it’s a life-long commitment. But every triumph along the way will bring you satisfaction, opportunity, and a step closer to being the best leader you can be.
Here are five behaviors that are guaranteed to P.O.W.E.R. up your leadership abilities.
Positive approach –in thought, word, emotion, expression, and posture. Maintaining a positive approach energizes you, keeps you ready for new challenges, and strengthens your ability to manage change.
Openness –to new ideas and people. Exposing yourself to all kinds of people and philosophies, and being knowledgeable on many subjects, increases your versatility and ability to see new possibilities.
Willingness –to do things differently, to persevere, to help others, to do what’s right, to learn new skills, and to acknowledge greatness in others expands your ability to influence and empower the people around you.
Employing –tact, common courtesies, sincerity, tolerance, humor, hope, and patience earns you respect and increases your ability to attract the right people at the right time.
Remembering – your purpose. Knowing yourself, being honest with yourself, doing your best, and believing in who you enhance your ability to inspire higher performance in others.
When you think of the leaders you admire at work, in political, religious, or social arenas, what score would you give them on a scale of 1-10 in terms of having personal power? What score would you give yourself?
If you want to grow as a leader and increase your sphere of influence, you must continually find ways to nurture and strengthen your personal power. Research shows that true leadership is a learned ability. Therefore, you can, with deliberate intent, master the habits, characteristics, and attitudes shared by all good leaders.
For example, good leaders:
- Build trust by doing what they say they will do
- Build loyalty by being of service to those they lead and follow
- Solicit the input of people who have the skills and knowledge they may lack
- Stand by their decisions
- Have a sense of urgency
- Use authority only as a backup and use it sparingly
Most importantly, good leaders know that leadership is…
Creating and holding vision. People need to understand the “why,” as well as the “what,” “when,” “where,” and “how.” A leader communicates the “why” in a way that engages the passions of others and compels them to take up the charge.
Developing people. A leader is a catalyst for releasing human potential by encouraging others, setting an example, and celebrating individual and team accomplishments. As a result, those they lead show more initiative, take greater responsibility, and become more productive.
Motivating and energizing others. A leader has good interpersonal skills, the ability to adapt to different people and situations, and to recognize and address political and interpersonal sensitivities. He or she is a team player, acts on suggestions when possible, and makes work enjoyable for the people in their organization.
Taking responsibility. A leader treats people with respect and does not shift blame to others, show favoritism or prejudices, or carry a grudge.
Planning for the future. Taking the time to establish a course of action while looking for potential problems, then handling them proactively, with good judgment, and as opportunities rather than irritations, is the hallmark of an effective leader.
Establishing structure. Organizational structure makes it possible for individuals to work together. A leader has the ability to create an organizational structure that allows people to work in teams as effectively as they may work alone.
Sharing knowledge and experience. A leader never hesitates to share what they know for fear that others might use that knowledge to threaten his or her leadership position. In fact, a good leader ensures that others can take the lead whenever necessary.
Following direction, as well as setting direction. Knowing how to take direction and relay the information in a manner that gains group consensus and encourages creative thinking is a leader’s trump card.
Making the boss look good. It’s not “brown nosing” when a leader consistently does a good job and finds ways to make his or her boss’s life easier. It’s good business sense, profitable for the organization, and creates more potential for advancement up and down the line.
When you work for a true leader, you can feel the difference. You feel happy and productive. As leadership is individual and personal, people may not be able to easily define what good leadership is, however, they can identify it when they encounter it.
So perhaps it’s time to ask yourself, “Why” do I want to be a leader? “Who” are my coaches and mentors? “What” are my goals and objectives?” “When” will I take the first steps? “Where” will I be in three years, in five years? “How” will I measure my effectiveness?
There are plenty of big jobs awaiting men and women who have the power to turn challenges into opportunities for success. If you want to be counted among them,
- Make a habit of reading books and attending workshops on leadership and communication development.
- List all the qualities of leadership that are important to you and make an effort to embody them.
- Ask leaders you know and respect to spend time with you and help you navigate through the waters of greater responsibility.
- Do the same for others.
And finally, ask yourself every day, “Do I do what good leaders do?” When your answer is “Yes” on a regular basis, you will find yourself on the way to more exciting leadership roles and greater personal power.
For additional information contact Encore Consulting Group.
Jim Dawson trains professionals in the successful strategies of leadership, communications, and management. You can reach him at [email protected].