Great leaders, just like great entrepreneurs, are made, not born. In today’s society, leadership and entrepreneurship both have lost their meaning in a sea of bad information coupled with poor portrayal of great leaders by the media. This makes many believe that leaders are defined by how well a company does or how much money they make. Essentially, true leadership is not about either of those things but rather about one person’s ability to take the front seat in a journey less traveled, and take an oath that everyone following him/her will reach their destination.
Leadership is about people, and people are all you can lead. Someone who says they lead numbers of a business simply doesn’t understand what the term even stands for, and is probably not the best person to follow. The one and only question a leader should be able to answer when questioning his own leadership is:
“Why should anyone follow me?”
Easier asked than answered, yet there are plenty of incredible leaders out there leading people to better places, even when faced with adversity.
Here are 6 things you should know if you want to become a great leader:
1. Leadership is about people.
As I said earlier you can only lead people, not things; understanding that people are your only asset as a leader enables you to become very resourceful. It also allows you to take a vested interest in looking out for each and every one of those you lead.
2. You can’t lead everyone, so don’t try.
When you answer the question why should anyone follow you, you have to understand that people are drawn to others who share common sets of values and beliefs and therefore everyone will not be drawn to you and that’s okay. One of the most significant qualities of a great leader is their ability to know who should be following them based on the value they understand they can provide their followers.
3. You don’t have to know the way, only promise you won’t leave anyone behind.
Every leader has not ventured down every path, and it is very likely that if you are in a leadership position you find yourself challenged in ways you have never been before and gone down paths you never imagined. You don’t have to know all the answers or the way, but you have to ensure you’ll always be the first through the door and that you’ll see the journey through to the end. The commitment you make is not to be right on the first attempt but that you won’t give up until you figure it out.
4. You have to leverage those you lead.
Resourcefulness comes from people, not resources. Great leaders know how to leverage those they lead for the common good of the group. Utilizing your assets does not make you a manipulator, but rather it allows you to move forward faster, and since those following you share a common vision, it will ultimately allow everyone to get there faster.
5. Leadership isn’t about being nice, it’s about being fair.
Nice guys finish last, while fair leaders finish strong. The idea behind being fair allows you to keep the balance between friendship, family, and the goal at hand. While we always want to be considerate of others and understanding of their needs, we must still exercise balance to ensure everyone you lead, including yourself, moves forward. Great leadership is about balance, not friendship.
6. Your title holds no relevance, your actions do.
Leadership is not given by an institution or business based on a title. It is earned through those who you are leading. Their earned respect and belief in you is what dictates if you are a leader or not. Don’t confuse your title with your leadership status. You become a leader when those following you declare you as such, not because you were given a job.
Those are 6 must-know aspects of being a great leader. At the end of the day, great leaders are those who can confidently answer the question of why others should follow them, but can also help convince those who don’t know it yet that their leadership can help them reach new heights and growth both on a personal and business level. So ask yourself… why should anyone follow you?