Some people think that being a leader means you are in a position of importance. While others think leadership only happens when you get a title.
However, you and I have experienced leaders who are only leaders in name but they simply have no clue about the responsibility that comes with it. Or people who do not have titles but make great leaders where they have such powerful social influence over their peers to get things done.
So who can be leaders? I think you know the answer to this one — anyone. Everyone can be a leader. Leadership comes naturally to some, and for most, it is a learned skill.
It is funny how some people who fear the leadership role would say: if everyone is a leader then who would be followers? That I think is just their excuse to remain small.
A true leader builds leaders. A true leader empowers others to lead too. In my work and interaction with many leaders, I have found that those I respect and admire the most are those who uplift me, who believed in me more than I believed in myself at the beginning. They also have no fear whatsoever that I would become better than them, in fact to them it would be a high compliment if I ever did become better than them.
I have also come across leaders who spend a lot of their time whining, complaining about other leaders, not being able to move on despite challenges and trying to win sympathy votes. To me, that is not a true leader and in fact can be extremely off-putting. A leader does not drain you emotionally, leaving you feeling like you have to lift them higher.
So what are the kinds of skills we should brush up on so that we may be better at leading and changing our part of the world?
From what I have learned from people who have led me lovingly and wisely, these are some of the leadership traits I aim to continue to improve upon:
- Believe and trust in those you lead and telling them so
- Giving room to others to develop their own way of leadership and not try to save them from failing (we grow much more powerfully through our challenges!)
- Seeing the best in each person
- Serving others despite not personally benefiting from it
- Being magnanimous in heart and mind
- Being unconditional in support but with clear boundaries that serve to empower not victimise
- Seeing self as equal to others you serve even though you are leading, and remembering that you are but a few steps ahead in knowledge and know-hows
- Serving humbly and with love
- Not fearing vulnerability and allowing others to see that leaders too make mistakes
- Intent to build leaders in others
The following are what I have observed in others on what not to do in leadership:
- Presenting an invulnerable front to others, making others feel like going to where you are is an impossible task
- Lead with an iron fist and creating a separation between yourself and those you lead
- Lacking emotional connection with those you lead
- Expressing too much emotional connection with those you lead — presenting yourself as an emotional victim. It is easy for others to lose their respect for you.
- Excessive self-effacement, presenting a lack of confidence (There’s a fine line between being modest and lacking in confidence. A good leader will accept praise and recognition in their stride and will not deflect that which is earned.)
With these in mind, are you ready to influence your circle to truly be of service and change not only your life but the lives of others?
© 2012, 2017 Shamala Tan