A leader is not born. A leader is created and the whole process starts inside the most powerful place you’ll ever encounter – your own mind.
How can you become a strong leader who inspires others, drives people toward excellence, holds people accountable, and instills a sense of trust? Learning what makes a great leader is your first step.
Here are some things you can do to become the leader you’ve always wanted to be:
Control yourself. Every great leader in history has had to become a master of self-discipline and willpower to stay focused on the big picture. If you don’t have a goal or the drive to achieve it, you can’t lead others to attain theirs.
Follow through in everything you do. As challenging as it may be, you need to be disciplined enough to be where you need to be, when you need to be there, whether you want to or not. By being strong in your resolve and resisting temptation to give up, you are setting an example for others to live up to.
Choose your emotional response to a situation carefully. Sometimes you’ll need to practice the art of silencing your inner thoughts when they’re not appropriate in setting a positive example. Praise highly and criticize constructively. The way you praise and criticize others can make all the difference in being able to lead effectively.
Make sure you publicly praise the people who do excellent work for you. You’ll give the person a sense of accomplishment and the drive to do even better.
When someone does something wrong, offer constructive criticism and do it privately. Suggest solutions on how they can improve and take the time to answer any questions. They’ll accept your input more willingly if they know it’s done to help and not to harm.
Know your people. You can’t truly lead a group of people unless you truly understand their hopes, dreams, struggles, pains, and goals. All the good intentions in the world mean nothing unless you have a true sense of the people you’re working with.
Talk to your team and get to know them. Getting to know each other on a personal level will strengthen the bond between you. They’ll want to do better for you because you’re more than just a “boss.”
Be their leader, first, and their friend second. You’re their leader and that means that you need to make difficult decisions from time to time. These decisions cannot be affected by personal relationships.
Make the hard call. There are times when you need to bite the bullet and make some unpleasant decisions. Firing, demoting, and holding people accountable for their actions can be very hard at times. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to handle these matters. Project your goals. If the people you’re leading don’t completely understand the deeper meaning in their work, they won’t share your vision or work ethic.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Every step of the way, communicate with your team to make sure they’re on the same wavelength and know what you expect of them.
Get your team involved in the planning process and the implementation of your ideas. This gives everyone a greater sense of ownership towards result you are trying to achieve. Regardless of where your leadership role takes you, believe that you can be a strong leader.
Remember that to lead others, you must be disciplined yourself. After all, your actions will speak louder than anything you can say. To gain the respect of others, strive to lead by example in every area of your life. When you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a true leader!
Maria Sowden-Weingarden is a Transformation Coach and Change Catalyst based in Canada.
Maria’s mission is to create respectful, productive, collaborative, and engaged workplaces through the development of confident, courageous and conscious leaders. She helps leaders transform groups who work together into high performing teams who share a common vision, goals and commitment.