Leadership is a very spoken about word and it is safe to say we all need Leadership. The sad thing about Leadership is, that although the word implies good, there are so many ineffective leaders in our society today. Leaders with the wrong intentions. Leaders that lead for self gain, political leaders who lose their way. Leaders that rule from a point of title. Leaders that invoke fear. There are the leaders that are arrogant, disorganised, critical, dishonest and then there are the real leaders.
The leader that inspires, motivates, encourages. The leader that is willing to listen to and to learn from others. The Leader that knows that Leadership is about example. The leader that appreciates that you cannot expect others to do what they are not willing to do. A smart leader recognises their strengths and weakness.
Great leaders are willing to allow others to shine, they are not easily intimidated by effective co-workers. Their goal is to bring the best out in people and they are very happy to give credit, where credit is due. There is not an inherent need to feel in charge because they are confident in who they are. Great leaders believe in their ability to lead because they are comfortable with their level of expertise. They appreciate their knowledge and they are willing to share it.
So having said all this I wanted to get more personal. I wanted to share my leadership journey with you. Growing up I never regarded myself as an influencer, in fact I really didn’t have great self esteem and leadership really scared me. I was the one that coward in the background and I certainly never raised my hand when invited to take charge. I wasn’t introvert but I could probably have described myself as shy.
The question is what changed? I was exposed to a vehicle that opened my mind, broadened my horizons, assisted me in setting goals and made me realise that anything is possible if you are prepared to work for it. This brings me to my first Leadership lesson:
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Now one thing I have never been scared to do, is work. Having started my first job at 13, working was something I knew I would always be doing. This was both to create a better future for myself but I am also fiercely passionate about being able to stand on my own two feet. Appreciate that you get nothing for nothing. So I embarked on a journey together with my best friend and together we created a different life for ourselves. We set personal goals and worked daily on making them happen. We worked evenings and weekends, we were always prepared to go the extra mile. We started building teams of people that shared our vision and we put in hours of work to help them with their dreams and goals. We appreciate that if we helped enough other people get what they wanted, we could get what we wanted. We never looked at this as Leadership but we began to inspire people by the results we were getting and the changes that we experiencing in our lifestyle. We encouraged them to take the plunge and change their lives. We spoke about the benefits of hard work and the rewards that were attached to it.
We never kicked people when they were down and always encouraged them to get up one more time. We were prepared to go into the trenches with others to help them make things happen. This earned us respect and without any intention we found ourselves leading a voluntary army, simply by example.
YOUR WORD IS YOUR WORD
We would like to think this is another reason why people chose to follow us. We have always prided ourselves on doing what we said we were going to do. It’s not something you do to lead people, its who you are. The question is are you a person of your word? Can you be counted on? To often people over promise and under deliver. We walked our talk, not always perfectly but always with intention. We avoided making excuses and were willing to apologise for our short comings. We were there when we said we would be, we did what we promised we would do. It is easy to give people what they want to hear but when you don’t act on your promises you lose credibility and people stop trusting you. It is sometimes harder to be honest with people but you have to say no, when no is what you mean. This will earn you respect and others are way more tolerant of honesty than they are of being let down.
Over the years, we have made many mistakes, we have made bad decisions and we have been guilty of doing some very silly things. We have made money and we have lost money. We have made some very stupid parenting decisions and we have made some that we are very grateful for. We were not always great at marriage but we have learnt from our mistakes. We are certainly different individuals to who we were, before we embarked on our personal growth journey. We don’t claim to be the expert, we are willing to laugh at ourselves and we are willing to share all our mishaps with others. This makes you real, this makes you approachable and thats who we always want to be.
So in essence Leadership happened by accident, we simply had work ethic and a dream that inspired others, we tried to always be true to our word and we were willing to share all our transgressions. So while you may not feel like a leader, understand that others are always watching you. You to have qualities that others look up to. One of my favourite books was “Leader without a Title” by Robin Sharma. Apart from the fact that I really enjoyed the book, I was seriously attracted to the title. Whether we are willing to acknowledge it or not we are all leaders, some are just better than others. What kind of leader do you aspire to be?