Do you want to know what it takes to be a leader? How can you develop yourself to become the leader that people look to in times of crisis? I have come up with what I have found to be the most influential aspects of a leader; qualities that every leader must develop within themselves to make a positive impact. Developing these qualities will not only change your life, but they will greatly influence those around you. You can not take people where you have not yet gone. Develop these qualities in yourself and unleash the leader within.
All leaders must have integrity! Integrity means that you follow through with everything you say you are going to do. Your words line up with your actions. How do you feel when someone does not follow through with their promises? It does not feel good, does it? With all that you do, make sure to always keep your word. Be honest, be loyal, and commit to what you say you will do, and you will find that others will start to respect you.
As stated by Rick Warren, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others.” As leaders it is not about us anymore, it is about raising others above ourselves. Giving all the credit to those we lead. It’s about admitting our faults, showing others that we are not perfect, and letting those know that we make mistakes every day just like everyone else. Humility is essential in connecting with others.
“People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.” The author of this quote, John Maxwell, knows that it is not about leaders boasting about their accomplishments and accolades, but it is actually about giving our all to others. It is about serving others with a caring and kind heart. We must first touch a heart before we ask for a hand. As a leader, in all that you do, make sure to focus on helping others find the potential within them, before serving your own needs.
Empathy is the act of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It is about understanding the thoughts and feelings of another. When someone is sad, are you recognizing their sadness? When someone is happy, are you celebrating their happiness, their successes? Empathy requires us to get out of our minds, thoughts, and opinions and step into another’s perspective. How are you exemplifying empathy to others?
Where are you going on your leadership journey? Is it clearly defined? A leader must know where they are going for others to follow. It is essential to have direction, a purpose for action. Followers need to know that their leader can confidently say they know where they are going and that they can help others get them there. Hellen Keller puts it wisely, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” We may be able to see, but do we know where we are going and why we are going there? Do you have direction in those that you lead?
Every leader must be able to communicate effectively! When communicating, are you communicating in a way that others can understand you? Are you keeping it simple to understand? When communicating it must go both ways. To do this, you must first seek to understand before being understood. How do you do this? Ask questions! What questions are you asking those you lead to understand where they are coming from?
When times become hard, leaders must become a light to others. They must show hope and encourage those they lead to keep pushing forward. Maintaining a positive attitude is crucial in encouraging those you lead. Life is not always easy. A leader must encourage others that there is a brighter future ahead, a light at the end of the tunnel. Show others hope! Be positive!
Inspiration comes from within. As a leader, how are you developing those you lead to find the potential within themselves? Leaders must get others to act. If you are a leader and you are just maintaining the status quo, are you even leading? Inspiration creates action and action creates change. What type of positive change are you inspiring in others?
Being passionate is about being all-in. Passion gives you life, energy, and purpose to fulfill your destiny. In everything that you do, are you living to your passions? While living out your passions, people should be able to recognize that you are doing what you love. Passion clearly shows others that you lead by example in everything that you do. Passion is doing what makes you happy. Have you found out what you are passionate about? To become successful as a leader, true success lies within your passion.
Are you living out your true, raw, unapologetically true self? Are you being completely honest with who you are and what makes you exceptionally unique? To be authentic means to live out who you truly are as a leader. It’s about living to your strengths and what makes you the best leader that you can be. Kurt Cobain put it bluntly, “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.” Be yourself! You are destined for greatness!
Now is your time! What are you going to do to positively influence those around you? Live out these qualities and you will see your leadership capabilities grow beyond measure. For leaders to be great, we must first start with ourselves. Continually grow and always strive to be the positive change you want to see in the world!
Carl currently resides in Wichita, KS where he coaches and consults businesses, community groups, and individuals with Exemplify.