Great leaders, just like great entrepreneurs, are made, not born. In today’s society, leadership and entrepreneurship both have lost their meaning in a sea of bad information coupled with poor portrayal of great leaders by the media. This makes many believe that leaders are defined by how well a company does or how much money they make. Essentially, true leadership is not about either of those things but rather about one person’s ability to take the front seat in a journey less traveled, and take an oath that everyone following him/her will reach their destination.
Leadership is about people, and people are all you can lead. Any idiot who says they lead numbers of a business simply doesn’t understand what the term even stands for, and is probably not the best person to follow. The one and only question a leader should be able to answer when questioning his own leadership is:
“Why should anyone follow me?”
Easier asked than answered but yet there are plenty of incredible leaders out there leading people to better places, even when faced with adversity that hadn’t been encountered yet.
Here are 10 things you should know if you are going to be a leader.
- Leadership is about people.
As I said earlier you can only lead people, not things. Understanding that people are your only asset as a leader enables you to become very resourceful. It also allows you to take a vested interest in looking out for each and everyone of those you lead.
- You can’t lead everyone, so don’t try.
When you answer the question why should anyone follow you, you have to understand that people are drawn to others who share common sets of values and beliefs and therefore everyone will not be drawn to you and that’s ok. One of the most memorable qualities a great leader has is his ability to know who should be following him/her based on the value they understand they can provide that person.
- You don’t have to know the way, only promise you won’t leave anyone behind.
Every leader has not ventured down every path and it is very likely that if you are in a leadership position, you find yourself challenged in ways you have never been before and gone down paths you never imagined. You don’t have to know all the answers or the way, but you have to ensure you’ll always be the first through the door and that you’ll see the journey through to the end. The commitment you make is not to be right on the first attempt but that you won’t give up till you figure it out.
- You have to leverage those you lead.
Resourcefulness comes from people, not resources. Great leaders know how to leverage those they lead for the common good of the group. Utilizing your assets does not make you a manipulator, it allows you to move forward faster and since those following you share a common vision, it will ultimately allow you to get there faster.
- Protecting those you lead involves making tough decisions.
In leadership, you may be faced with what we call sacrifices. In order to ensure the common good and growth of those following you, you have to isolate and separate one from the group or perhaps even get rid of them. Those decisions are not made based on performance but rather by behavior and attitude. In order to allow many to succeed, one must be allowed to fail.
- You are responsible for those you lead, but not for their every action.
As much as great leaders hold themselves accountable, they must also realize that they cannot be responsible for every action those following them take. Each person has the capacity to choose their destiny and how they leverage what they have. Your role is to ensure you guide them in the right direction.
- Leadership isn’t about being nice, its about being fair.
Nice guys finish last, while fair leaders finish strong. The idea behind being fair allows you to keep the balance between friendship, family, and the goal at hand. While we always want to be considerate of others and understanding of their needs, we must still exercise balance to ensure everyone you lead, including yourself, moves forward. Great leadership is about balance, not friendship.
- You don’t always have to be right.
Great leaders know they are wrong when they are. They also realize they don’t have to be right all the time. The important part is to ensure you don’t pretend to be right when you are not.
- You are allowed to make mistakes, not repeat them.
Everyone makes mistakes, and no matter how incredible of a lead you are, you are still allowed to make them. The difference is how you are able to react to them and ensure they don’t occur again. Making the same mistake twice meaning you are incapable.
- Your title holds no relevance, your actions do.
Leadership is not given by an institution or business based on a title. It is earned through those who you are leading. Their earned respect and belief in you is what dictates if you are a leader or not. Don’t confuse your title with your leadership status. You become a leader when those following you declare you as such, not because you were given a job.
Those are your 10 must know aspects of being great leader. At the end of the day, great leaders are those who can answer the question of why others should follow them, but can also help convince those who don’t know it yet, that their leadership can help reach new heights in growth both on a personal and business level. So I ask you… why should anyone follow you?