Are you a leader?
Some people hold a leadership position. And, while most aspire to lead, others just lead regardless of their job title.
That’s because real leadership goes beyond a title.
Leadership brings with it the illusion of power and prestige. In reality, unless a leader is able to rally others, said leader is nothing more than a figurehead. Anyone who can bring the necessary people and pieces together in order to fulfill a vision and accomplish a task is a leader – no matter their title.
Of course, uniting people in pursuit of a shared goal is easier said than done. And, the approach to getting the job done differs. You could simply call yourself a leader, and then order others to follow your lead. Or, you could inspire others to follow your lead.
You Must Learn to be the Kind of Leader People Want to Follow
Think Big – People want to be part of a breakthrough. If you set out to identify and then accomplish the next big thing, you will attract the right talent, the people who can bring the project to life. Look into the future and think about what could be. And then ask; who’s coming with me?
Be an Upsider – When in doubt, be positive. No one wants to follow the lead of a pessimist. As a matter of fact, they won’t even want to be around you. The world is full of cynics. Don’t play devil’s advocate; look on the bright side instead. It’s possible to be realistic and upbeat at the same time.
Share – Build authentic relationships and a loyal following by sharing your power, ideas, and the rewards with others. When things go wrong – and they will – take your share of the blame. When making decisions always be transparent, not private. Collaborate. If you give more than you take you will be rewarded handsomely.
Show Them Where, Not How – It’s your responsibility to identify the mission, mobilize the team, and keep everyone focused on the end goal. If you assembled the right team you won’t need to tell them how you will just have to point them in the right direction. Allow the talent, their passion, and entrepreneurial spirit of your team to determine the how.
Accept Criticism – You are not perfect, none of us are. You know it and so does your team. Just admit it. Commit to improving and learning by remaining receptive to criticism. But, listening to criticism is not enough. You must accept it and act on it. Don’t be afraid of bad news. Encourage constructive debates and disagreements. Ultimately, you and you’re team will be better for it.
Be Consistent – Leaders set the tone for how others conduct themselves. Everyone in the room, office, and company will take their cues from you. If you’re emotions and actions are all over the map, everyone will be walking on eggshells waiting for you to explode. Don’t be unpredictable, be reliable. Model the energy, enthusiasm, and passion you want others to emulate.
Care – Put people first. Your team deserves your personal attention. Talk to them. Listen when they talk. Pay attention to their needs. Provide them with feedback. Coach them to be better. Or else, they will fail. And, when they fail, you fail.
Make Things – This point can be summed up in one word; execute. Ideas don’t matter until you actually make something. But, part of making things means allowing your team to try and fail. Sometimes you have to figure out what doesn’t work if you expect to determine what does. Encourage your team to follow through on the transformative ideas that they have by making more things.
Then, Ship Them – Steal a page from Seth Godin’s playbook and commit to shipping what you make. We’re all afraid of being judged, of not being good enough. That fear keeps us from sharing our ideas and creations with the world. Instead of tweaking and tinkering with what you’ve made to avoid shipping it, just put it out there. It’s the only way to make a real and lasting impact.
The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship. – Seth Godin
Connect – Whatever you’re trying to do, know that you can’t possibly do it on your own. That’s why you must connect with others – to build something bigger than yourself. Once you start you will be able to unite ideas with individuals. You’ll meet people who are likeminded, people who balance you and others who challenge you to think differently. But, they all will propel you forward as you build your team and pursue your vision.
Follow Through – If you want to earn respect and trust, do exactly what you say you will do. Keep your word. That’s how you will build a reputation for making things happen. Don’t make empty promises. Come through in the clutch. Know that the follow-up is part of the follow-through. Get in the habit of following-up with clients, employees, and prospective customers. Make sure everyone has what they need.
Maintain your Convictions – The worst kind of leader is gutless. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the best leaders stand up for what they believe in. They make their expectations, values, and beliefs known to others. They give everything they’ve got and expect others to do the same. They will go to bat for their people. If need be, they will take one for the team. They will put their job on the line if it means maintaining their convictions.
Break the Mold – challenge others to question “standard operating procedure.” The status quo stifles innovation. Allow your team to think freely. Encourage them to experiment, participate in multiple projects, and move ideas forward. Flexibility encourages productivity and makes for an engaged and effective team. And, that’s exactly what you’re going for.
If you’re willing and able to do these things, you will become a leader. People will begin to follow your lead, no title necessary.