Born or made? The age-old debate still looms today. Some people are indeed natural born leaders but leadership goes far beyond genes and family. Natural born leaders are also not necessarily natural born good leaders.
There are some great books out there on leadership. Everything from Peter Drucker to a short yet entertaining and true “The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus” by Harvey, Cottrell, and Lucia. The bottom line is that it is our work and personal experiences, opportunity, role models, and mentors, etc. that all go together to create our leadership style and leadership ideas.
Leaders are not infallible and leaders are human, but true leaders have the ability to rally those around them to aspire everyone to be just a little greater. The best leaders LEARN to lead. It is a process that occurs often through trial and error. If the path is always laid out for you and an easy journey, you never learn to create new paths when the old one just doesn’t work.
That is why effective leadership happens over time. Those who have learned to effectively lead share these common characteristics:
Be Genuine and Caring – Yes, it’s okay to be caring. It’s not a sign of weakness. A few years ago I worked for a president / CEO whom I still admire greatly to this day. I, sadly, lost my sister from a long battle of cancer. On my first day back into the office, he called me in and spent a few minutes with me. He told me how sorry he was and shared a personal story of his battle with cancer. He spoke with tears in his eyes and I saw the strength and caring he possessed. It touched me deeply and I became a very loyal employee to him because of the way he cared. He didn’t just care about the organization but he cared about me, the employee.
Passion and Purpose – Passion drives you. Purpose becomes clear when you have passion. You have to know what you stand for before you can engage others in the process.
Model the behavior you want to see and set the standard for ethics and integrity – People watch you even when you do not realize it. If you cannot model the behavior you want to see in others, your credibility will be minimized.
Surround yourself with people who share key leadership qualities – You must have a team of leaders in the company who can live up to the ethics or standards you have set. You cannot always do everything all alone. That is why you create a team with people who share the same qualities but also possess the strengths that you have not yet developed.
Learn to be transformational – People will follow a person that inspires them. A person with a vision and a passion will achieve great things. A person who communicates that vision with truth, integrity, and ethics will create a transformational organization.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to sit around and wait for the next great leader to be born. I believe we have people right now who ready to take that challenge. Never forget your passion and don’t forget to care!