Are leaders born or are leaders made?
Is there such thing as a natural leader, i.e., someone who marches to their own beat and does not necessarily seek to be the leader but does appear to be a leader to his/her peers because he/she has the courage to do what most don’t.
or…a learned leader, i.e., someone who has been promoted because they have excelled in their job or outlasted others and has now found themselves in a position of leadership, not always being qualified to lead but nonetheless must do it.
I wonder about this question a lot…because at some point, one needs to decide whether we are complacent in our position of following or do we want to excel, grow, take a stand and risk not being liked. I have had a handful of assistant roles. Most recently, I was an assistant to someone that I respected greatly for his ethics, values and integrity but I have to tell you that the weight he carried on his shoulders scared the crap out of me. Yet the most impressive thing to me was his ability to filter the stress. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, he was always calm and cool as a cucumber. I admire that so much. I have seen him put his foot down as well, as most great leaders must do. The idea that people may not like what he had to say, didn’t phase him as he was not concerned about being like, only about the job that needed to be done. If a leader has honorable qualities, you may not like him, but you have to respect him. I think I could live with that, or can I?
The question is, do you respect and appreciate yourself enough to be able to deal with other people not liking you and still push with full steam ahead. Do you believe in your personal mission statement enough to ignore the grunts and hisses you’re going to receive when you are trying to share your vision? Can you stay consistent and motivated until everyone is on board and you have made the appropriate changes to create the culture you need to be successful. ughh,..it sounds exhausting, (as my boyfriend would say 🙂 )
It’s something I have been thinking about for a while as one of my challenges in life was being true to myself and what went along with that…despite it not being the popular choice and risk feeling left out or unappreciated. If you can separate the emotion and personal feelings attached but yet still be compassionate, strong and inspirational, I think you have a chance at being a good leader. No one wants a leader who cries at every event,..haha, so you have to get that in check but yet find the fine line between conveying compassionate and inspiration supported by strength, integrity and resolve.
So, just for fun, here are Forbe’s top ten qualities of a good leader from and article in 2012, paraphrased here. Also it’s something to think about for the new year:
Honesty – When you are responsible for a team of people, you have to set the bar even higher. If you set it, your team will most likely follow, and if not, you can easily weed out those that don’t follow suit.
Ability to Delegate – Trust your team. Delegating is a sign of strength, not weakness. If you don’t delegate and spread yourself too thin, the quality of your work will be sacrificed. Find the strengths in your team members.
Communication – If you can’t relate your vision to the team, you all won’t be working towards the same goal.
Sense of Humor – Encourage your team to laugh at the mistakes instead of crying. Make it a point to crack jokes with your team and encourage personal discussions of weekend plans and trips. It’s these short breaks from the task at hand that help keep productivity levels high and morale even higher.
Confidence -Part of your job as a leader is to put out fires and maintain the team morale. Remember, your team will take cues from you, so if you exude a level of calm damage control, your team will pick up on that feeling.
Commitment -If you expect your team to work hard and produce quality content, you’re going to need to lead by example. There is no greater motivation than seeing the boss down in the trenches working alongside everyone else, showing that hard work is being done on every level.
Positive Attitude -You want to keep your team motivated towards the continued success of the company, and keep the energy levels up. Whether that means providing snacks, coffee, relationship advice, or even just an occasional beer in the office, remember that everyone on your team is a person.
Creativity – As a leader, its important to learn to think outside the box and to choose which of two bad choices is the best option. Don’t immediately choose the first or easiest possibility; sometimes its best to give these issues some thought, and even turn to your team for guidance.
Intuition -When leading a team through uncharted waters, there is no roadmap on what to do. Everything is uncertain, and the higher the risk, the higher the pressure. That is where your natural intuition has to kick in. Guiding your team through the process of your day-to-day tasks can be honed down to a science. But when something unexpected occurs, or you are thrown into a new scenario, your team will look to you for guidance. Drawing on past experience is a good reflex, as is reaching out to your mentors for support. Eventually though, the tough decisions will be up to you to decide and you will need to depend on your gut instinct for answers. Learning to trust yourself is as important as your team learning to trust you.
Ability to Inspire – Inspiring your team to see the vision of the successes to come is vital. Make your team feel invested in the accomplishments of the company. It is your job to keep spirits up, and that begins with an appreciation for the hard work.
Here is the full article!
p.s…I realize the images above have no rhyme or reason with my blog topic. I just love the images 🙂