The art of leadership can be defined in many ways. There are probably as many definitions of leadership as there are leaders, and each person brings their style of leadership, which is part of what makes it such a dynamic and interesting field. But at some point, most of them say, “I had no idea it would be this way.”
Some even complain that they came unprepared for their roles because schools of management and leadership did not give them the skills they needed to succeed as leaders.
So here are some lessons in Leadership 101:
1. Your character is more important than your competency. More than anything else, you want to be known as a leader who is ethical, honest and trustworthy. It’s important for leaders to be competent and skilled, but that’s not the source of great leadership. It’s your character as a leader that matters most—not only to your team, organization, or venture but also to the world. Without trust, all the competency in the world is meaningless.
2. Your insistence on excellence will be measured daily. As a leader, your standard of leading and doing and acting will be measured daily. Part of the calling of leadership is a commitment to live your life with the highest standards. Excellence matters. It’s a question you have to ask yourself every day: Did I deliver excellence or did I cut corners? Excellence is ultimate measure of success, especially in leadership.
3. Your communication will be welcomed and scrutinized. The finest expression of respect is not praise or status but the willingness to communicate candidly and honestly. It is important to share information, and it will be welcomed when you do. But you’ll also be scrutinized—on how you speak and how you listen. Make sure you communicate in a way that leaves people feeling valued and understood.
4. Your leadership style will be emulated and criticized. As much as possible, don’t give others cause to condemn or find fault with your life and leadership but make your legacy one that inspires others to live their lives authentically and well. Remember, everything you do as a leader sets an example, so be sure the example you are setting is one you want to see throughout your organization.
5. Accountability and responsibility are an irresistible force. The price of great leadership is accountability and responsibility. Their combined force has the power to change the face of people and circumstances. The remarkable thing is that you have a choice every day about how we conduct yourself. Always make those choices on the basis of what is best for the organization. Let people know they can count on you.
6. Developing others is as important as developing yourself. The most important responsibility of a leader is helping their people develop; your success depends on how well you perform this task. Make employee development an important priority by creating a climate in your organization or team where personal growth is expected and rewarded. Great leadership consists of showing good people how to do the work of great people.
7. You need to bring plenty of confidence and courage. Leadership is not easy. There are many challenges, and you will need to be decisive and confident. But you’ll also need to be able to put yourself on the line. The burden of decision making belongs to the leader, and the key to leadership is having the confidence to be decisive. The other essential quality—and the two are closely related—is courage. Successful leaders have the courage to take action where others hesitate.
Especially if you’re starting out, these elements will make the difference between being a good leader and a great leader. Take them to heart just as the most successful leaders do.
Lead From Within: The secret for the first time leader, is knowing that nothing will work until they do.
N A T I O N A L B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness
After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.
Additional Reading you might enjoy:
- 12 Successful Leadership Principles That Never Grow Old
- A Leadership Manifesto: A Guide To Greatness
- How to Succeed as A New Leader
- 12 of The Most Common Lies Leaders Tell Themselves
- 4 Proven Reasons Why Intuitive Leaders Make Great Leaders
- The One Quality Every Leader Needs To Succeed
- The Deception Trap of Leadership
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.