Have you ever believed that leaders were simply born that way? I must confess that I was of the same mindset. I thought leaders were charismatic, good-looking individuals with a commanding presence and a winning smile that could light up any room.
Such people effortlessly commanded attention the moment they stepped into space. Their natural charm worked like magic, quickly drawing others towards them. They seemed to have a mysterious allure that led people to admire them, sometimes even against their own will.
Well, I was wrong.
In reality, what I perceived as 'leaders' were, in fact, extroverts, masters at social dynamics and interaction. Indeed, some leaders are extroverts with an innate ability to magnetically draw people to them. However, many are not.
Over the years, I have encountered countless leaders on the opposite end of the spectrum. They are quiet, introverted, and not necessarily assertive, yet they instill trust. They inspire and harness the collective power of a group, leading their teams to accomplish great things.
I have been fortunate (and sometimes unfortunate) enough to work with exceptional and not-so-great leaders. Through these experiences, I have distilled some vital truths about good leadership. Here are seven leadership tenets to bear in mind:
1. A leader is made, not born. Leadership has less to do with your innate abilities and more with your character and decisions, especially during challenging times. It's about cultivating resilience, adapting to change, and developing the wisdom to make hard choices when needed.
2. A good leader helps others grow and succeed. A true leader is a catalyst for their team's growth. They prioritize the success of those around them over their own. In contrast, a poor leader relentlessly pursues personal credit and self-advancement.
3. A wise leader understands that organizational success is a team effort. They recognize that if the organization fails, everyone suffers. They make tough decisions, like letting go of a team member who isn't a good fit, understanding that delaying this difficult choice can lower morale, decrease productivity, and cause overall damage.
4. A strong leader leads by example. They won't ask their team to do anything they aren't willing to do themselves. This alignment between their words and actions fosters trust and respect among their team.
5. A leader worth following is true to their word. Trust is the bedrock of any successful team, and nothing erodes it faster than a leader who breaks promises or blatantly lies. Leaders must honor their commitments, demonstrating that they're worthy of their team's trust.
6. A leader who stands up for their team earns their loyalty. I've lost clients because I defended my team members when they had done everything possible to help a client with unreasonable expectations. The adage, "the customer is always right," does not hold in every situation. At times, the best course of action is to part ways with the client. When you stand behind a team member, they will go to great lengths to serve you and the rest of the team.
7. An intelligent leader is always learning. They don't view leadership as a final destination but as a continual growth journey. They are committed to learning new things, whether it's about their industry, the technology they use, or the people they lead. One of The A Group's top core values is that "we are life-long learners." We welcome mistakes but don't tolerate a mind that refuses to learn.
Incorporating these tenets into your leadership approach will make you a more effective leader and inspire those around you to elevate their performance. Great leadership isn't just about taking charge; it's about guiding, inspiring, and enabling others to achieve their full potential.
Remember, leaders aren't born; they are made. So, let's start making ourselves into the leaders we aspire to be.