“Today is the beginning of your leadership journey.”
Have you heard that before? We are guessing you have as this is almost now a standard opening for any leadership course. However, it is completely untrue. Leadership doesn’t begin at a course or from someone putting you into the position of leadership. In actual fact, being placed in a position of leadership makes you a manager, not a leader.
So, what makes a leader?
A leader becomes a leader when they are seen as “leaders” by everyone in the organisation, not just subordinates. So, a leader leads leaders. More over, a leader inspires leaders, employees, customers and external stakeholders.
What do we see are the 10 key attributes that achieve this in a single person? And who can you look at today that represents examples of these attributes?
Individuals who show leadership take accountability for themselves and those around them. In particular, this accountability extends to thinking about the needs of the many over the one. For example, they are the ones that when you call, email or speak to them, they listen and they always respond. They deliver even when some requests seem overkill or perhaps they cannot see the value for themselves.
True leaders are extremely transparent to all stakeholders and don’t play politics with people. They keep stakeholders informed throughout the process or activity and take responsibility to ensure that transparency in maintained regardless of the effort it takes in making it happen.
We all know this person. A task is never beneath them and they don’t want any recognition for it. They just want to ensure that things happen regardless of where the credit lies.
True leadership comes from the heart and not the mind. A leader shows how they feel about things, in a balanced manner, that encourages all those around them to embrace their inner self worth and bring that into their daily activities to help the organisation achieve its goals. Passionate leaders laugh, smile, cry and feel pain, and are not afraid to talk about themselves with anyone in the organisation.
Working with others is a skill that actually provides the organisation with a massive multiplying positive impact. Not only does it provide others with information they need to perform their roles, it also provides them with a sense of belonging and connection with you. This is one of the scariest leadership traits, as essentially some people see this as threatening their existence in an organisation as “knowledge is power”, supposedly. Actually, as said here once before, sharing knowledge is the ultimate “power trip”!
A true leader shows courage, not just in themselves, but in others. They lead by example and in sporting terms they are the ones laying the tackle, or taking the hard hit for the team. They are not aggressive, or power hungry, but instead just take “the bull by the horns” and make things happen. This may mean sacrificing the political impacts of their actions which may impact career opportunities but if that is the case, then being a leader in that organisation is not really being a leader in an organisation that is worth being a leader in!
Making ideas happen is critical for any good leader, but also generating thinking that takes people outside the box is part of being a valuable leader. Strong leaders, in any aspect or role, are at the forefront of making change happen and taking that “risk” to put their good, and bad, ideas out there!
Leaders share success, and step forward in times of failure. Sharing success is about providing the limelight to the broad spectrum of people that make things successful.
Charisma is critical for anyone. It is not about putting on a show or being someone you are not, quite the contrary, it is about being the person you truly are. You cannot learn it or grow it, just be yourself and your natural charisma will show.
Leaders have individual strength. The strength to be criticised by anyone, the strength to stand up for those around them that are being mistreated, and the strength to be seen as imperfect. Because, you all know it, no one is perfect. A strong leader has the ability to admit that and to stand up and admit mistakes to others. The strength of your character is only ever tested in times of adversity and when things go wrong.
So, there are the 10 attributes or ingredients we see are important for a leader to be seen as truly a leader.
As you can read, “leaders lead and don’t just manage others”.