Leadership is not only the ability to move others towards a vision. It’s also the ability to move yourself towards a vision as well.
Leadership is not a quality you are born with, although it may seem that way. Leadership is a skill that everyone can embrace. It includes a set of learned behaviors that encourage other people to pay attention and commit to action. And why do they do this? We listen and model those whom we most admire and would most want to be like.
Behaviors are responses to a stimulus. Learned behavior is just what it sounds like. A behavior that is cultivated in an intentional way. Leadership then is intentionally cultivating these responses to the provocations of work and life:
Honest: When you are honest with yourself, it is easier to be honest with others. This type of integrity and authenticity engenders trust. Not only trust of others, but the trust of yourself. We may not always like the honest truth, but we respect it. When we know the bottom line, we know where we stand which makes it that much easier to develop meaningful and impactful solutions. The best decisions and actions are based on transparency.
Positive: When you are enthusiastic about today and inspired about what could be for tomorrow, you cultivate strong, healthy relationships with others. Being positive means you believe there is always a way and the way is through the strengths of people. Sometimes, the solution may be different than what you expected or hoped for but you look for the maximum benefit that can be achieved. People are energized by a can-do attitude especially when there are difficulties. With positivity, you can rally the troops, not only the ones on the ground but the one in your head.
Forward-Looking: A competent leader has a broad understanding of the situation which enables them to set realistic goals and lay out a path for achieving them. When you are clear about what needs to get done you can focus your resources on how to do it. You enlist experts and ask them the right questions to get everyone where they need to go, including yourself. Everything you do is in the present with an eye on the better future you envision. You glance backward to learn from mistakes but once the lesson is gleaned, you let it go. You believe that the knowledge from experience coupled with positivity and authenticity will build a better future, one that will meet the challenges of tomorrow with innovation rather than replication.
We all wear many hats. And all of them require some type of leadership. From our professional roles at work to our personal roles at home and in the community, leadership has a function in every one of them. No matter what our role, how large or small, we are always influencing others. With every word and every action, we are influencing. If we are a member of a team at work, what we do or don’t do affects the other team members and the recognized leader and vice versa. If we want to create more innovative, productive and happy cultures at work and in the world, we start with cultivating leadership at every level. Where everyone takes responsibility for the influence they wield.
All coaching I do involves taking a look at leadership in some form. Whether you want to perform better, tweak your strengths or specifically develop better leadership skills, it boils down to this basic principle- all growth and development and the inevitable change it will bring requires leadership not only of others but of yourself as well.
I’ve noticed that quality leaders demand quality team members and quality teams demand quality leaders. Like attracts like. We all influence each other, and so we all lead in one way or another.
Tell me, what does your leadership look like?
Jo-Aynne von Born, Executive Coach, Strategist, Workshop Facilitator