There is a real need for strong, authentic and progressive-thinking leaders in the world right now. During these times of hostility, destruction and uncertainty, there has probably never been a time in the history of the world for leaders to stand up and be the example of how people in the world can collaborate together.
Here’s the good news — leadership does not have to be defined by our position or status. We are all leaders in some way, whether it is taking care of our home life, leading a small team or contributing to our community in some way. And with more focus and commitment, we can all become better leaders.
Becoming a better leader does not necessarily mean we must have a strong platform or a global presence. It can simply mean we are choosing to do the best we can to make a difference in our own unique way. We tend to be drawn to those who inspire us to become better in all aspects of our lives. When we decide to become better leaders ourselves, we also inspire others to do the same.
Just like with anything in life, if we want to become better at anything, it will require dedicated focus, discipline and a commitment to improvement over a sustained period of time.
I strongly believe that before anyone can effectively lead others, they must be able to lead themselves first. Personal leadership, through the medium of self-awareness, is always a prerequisite to any other type of leadership.
As a training and coaching professional, one of the things I observed when working with a client’s training team, was the reluctance for members of the team to really share their opinions openly. It was evident that personal frustrations and preferences were not freely shared for fear of retribution or reprimand from team management.
What that created was a culture of distrust and cynicism, which resulted in an unhealthy and toxic environment. Team members chose to play safe rather share the truth of how they felt and what they believed could be done to improve the team. I, on the other hand, took the approach of being frank and at times, outspoken, purely out of my desire to see the team environment improve.
When I saw things that were not being done or addressed in a timely manner, I was willing to let the manager of the team know and often challenged her to step up and demonstrate better leadership. While I may not have had the title of manager or leader in the team, it didn’t stop me from contributing as a leader within the team. The manager of the team had a choice to act or not act on feedback I provided, and the times she acted on the feedback, it made a positive difference to the team environment.
We’re always leading our lives, and the outcomes we create in life are a reflection of our level of self-awareness. Our chances of becoming a better leader will always increase as our level of awareness increases. Here are five proven, practical things we can do to increase our chances of becming a better leader.
- Be willing to go first. A leader is always willing to do what others may be hesitant to do or not willing to do at all. This is critically important when things go wrong or when mistakes are made. As leaders, we should always be willing to own up to our mistakes and take the necessary actions to rectify the situation. As leaders, we must always be focused on solutions, not on situations or problems.
- Give more praise and appreciation. It is amazing what simple words of kindness or compliments can do for people’s self-confidence and self-esteem. Everyone wants to be appreciated and acknowledged for who they are and what they are doing. Great leaders know how to give praise the right way and also inspire people to continue to get better rather than become complacent.
- Know people on a personal level. Behind the roles we play in life, we’re all the same and want the same things. We want to experience joy, and find meaning and fulfilment from what we do in life. When we get to know people in a personal level, we can better understand their model of the world and what makes them tick. That can also provide valuable insight into people’s behaviours and preferences, which can be used to influence them in a positive way.
- Have a growth mindset. Leaders are lifelong learners. By continuing to focus on our personal growth, we will gain new levels of insights and awareness, which will result in us making better decisions. Having a growth mindset could involve networking with other leaders, attending events focused on personal and professional growth, and investing in leadership resources like books and training programs. “Always be learning” should be a mantra for every leader.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. Things do not always go as planned. As leaders, we must be prepared to go through turbulent times and quickly course-correct when required. Leaders are truly tested when things go wrong and if we’re continuously developing ourselves, it will be a lot easier to navigate through challenging times. As leaders, we must be prepared to deal with uncertain and difficult periods, and if we’re focused on where we want to go, we will always be better off for the experience.
If we do not intentionally focus on becoming better leaders, we won’t be able to reach our highest levels of ambition and potential. If we make improving our leadership abilities as an area of focus, not only will we make drastic improvements to our lives, we will also inspire others to follow in our footsteps. The world needs us to step up as leaders.
Question: What is another thing we can do to become a better leader?
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