Secrets of Great Leadership
Good leadership always makes a difference. It can turn organizations around and positively impact the lives of thousands of individuals. Leadership is not easy to learn, but what worthwhile thing is? Being a better leader pays dividends, but it takes great effort. Leadership requires a lot from a person. It is both demanding and complex. By learning more about leadership you will make a difference in yourself, and you will make a difference in the lives of others.
These secrets are for anyone who currently leads or aspires to lead. It offers the best of the best and the tried-and-true insights from top leaders. If you are a seasoned successful leader, These secrets will serve as reminders and they will help you as you guide potential leaders to also be successful and willing to make a difference.
If It’s Lonely at the Top, You’re Not Doing Something Right
There are many people in the world who are willing to give advice on things they’ve never experienced. They are like bad travel agents: They sell you an expensive ticket and say, “I hope you enjoy the trip. ”Then you never see them again. In contrast, good leaders are like tour guides. They know the territory because they’ve made the trip before, and they do what they can to make the trip enjoyable and successful for everybody.
Leaders rarely remain stationary. They are constantly on the move. Sometimes they are going down the mountain to find new potential leaders. At other times they are trying to make the climb with a group of people. The best ones spend much of their time serving other leaders and lifting them up.
If you find yourself too far from your people, then you need to change. True, there will be risks. But if you want to be the most effective leader you can be, there is no viable alternative.
The Toughest Person to Lead Is Always Yourself
To be successful in any endeavor, we need to learn how to get out of our own way. That’s as true for leaders as it is for anyone else.
Leading yourself well means that you hold yourself to a higher standard of accountability than others do. Why? Because you are held responsible not only for your own actions but also for those of the people you lead. Leadership is a trust, not a right. For that reason, we must “fix” ourselves earlier than others may be required to. We must always seek to do what’s right, no matter how high we rise or how powerful we become.
Defining Moments Define Your Leadership
What will determine whether you will step forward to successfully meet the challenges you face? The determining factor is how you handle certain critical moments in your life. These moments will define who you are as a person and as a leader. The choices we make in critical moments help to form us and to inform others about who we are.
Leaders become better leaders when they experience a defining moment and respond to it correctly. Any time they experience a breakthrough, it allows the people who follow them to also benefit. You can choose how you will handle defining moments when they come, and you can take steps to prepare for them.
Learn to stand up when you are criticized
One of the prices of leadership is criticism. When spectators watch a race, where do they focus their attention? On the front-runners! Few people pay close attention to the racers who are out of contention. Racers who are viewed as being out of the running are often ignored or dismissed. But when you’re out front and ahead of the crowd, everything you do attracts attention.
If you want to be a leader, you need to get used to criticism, because if you are successful, you will be criticized. Certain people will always find something to be unhappy about.
The Best Leaders Are Listeners
The positive benefits of being a good listener are much more valuable than we often recognize. Here are some ideas about the impact of good listening related to leadership:
1. Understanding people precedes leading them. Leadership finds its source in understanding. To be worthy of the responsibility of leadership, a person must have insight into the human heart.
2. Listening is the best way to learn. It is no accident that we have one mouth and two ears. When we fail to listen, we shut off much of our learning potential.
3. Listening can keep problems from escalating. Good leaders are attentive to small issues. They pay attention to their intuition. And they also pay close attention to what isn’t being said. To be an effective leader, you need to let others tell you what you need to hear, not necessarily what you want to hear.
4. Listening enables trust. David Burns, a medical doctor and professor of psychiatry, points out: “What most people really want is to be listened to, respected and understood. The moment people see that they are being understood, they become more motivated to understand your point of view.”
5. Listening can improve the organization. The bottom line is that when the leader listens, the organization gets better. No one can go to the highest level and take their organization there without being a good listener.
Get in the Zone and Stay There
No matter if you’re just starting out or if you are at the peak of your career, the more you work in your strength zone, the more successful you will be.
Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to your maximum potential and sowing seeds that benefit others. If you are able to do those three things, you are successful. However, none of them will be possible unless you find and stay in your strengths zone.
You don’t become an effective leader by default. You must be intentional. And you must work from your strengths. You are not called to do something that you have no talent for. You will discover your purpose by finding and remaining in your strengths zone.
Similarly, you cannot grow to your maximum potential if you continually work outside of your strengths zone. Improvement is always related to ability. The greater your natural ability, the greater your potential for improvement.
If you have an image in your mind of what talents people are supposed to have, yet you do not possess those talents yourself, then you will have a difficult time finding your true strengths. You need to discover and develop who you are.
Embrace realistic thinking
One of the pitfalls that can stop potential leaders is the desire to focus on vision to the detriment of facing reality. But good leaders are both visionary and realistic. Reality is the foundation for positive change. If you don’t face reality, then you will not be able to make necessary changes.
If you are optimistic, and you naturally encourage people, then you may need to take extra care to look reality in the eye and keep yourself grounded.
The ability to define reality as a leader means embracing realistic thinking so that we can see the consequences of our actions further and with greater clarity than those around us.
To See How the Leader Is Doing, Look at the People
Leaders inevitably make things better or worse for the people who follow them. Wherever you have a good leader, the team gets better, the organization gets better, the department or division gets better. And wherever you have a bad leader, everyone that leader impacts has a tougher time. Leadership makes every endeavor either better or worse.
The best leaders are highly intentional about developing their people. But good or bad, leaders always impact their people. And if you want to know whether a leader is successful and effective, don’t look at — or listen to — the leader. Simply look at the people.
Your Biggest Mistake Is Not Asking What Mistake You’re Making
Everyone makes mistakes — large and small. To get maximum attention, make a big mistake. To cause maximum damage, fail to admit it! That will keep you from growing as a leader. When it comes to success, it’s not the number of mistakes you make; it’s the number of times you make the same mistake. If you want to learn to fail successfully and handle the mistakes you do make with maximum profit, then you need to do the following five things:
1. Admit your own mistakes and weaknesses. The first step toward anticipating mistakes and learning from the ones you do make is to take a realistic look at yourself and admit your weaknesses. You can’t improve as a leader if you’re too busy trying to pretend you’re perfect.
2. Accept mistakes as the price of progress. Nothing is perfect in this life — and that includes you! If you want to move forward, you’re going to make mistakes. If you want to reach your potential as a leader, expect to fail and make mistakes.
3. Insist on learning from your mistakes. People in leadership need to take their cue from scientists. In science, mistakes always precede the discovery of truth.
4.Ask yourself and others, “What are we missing?” Reading between the lines is essential for good leadership. We are most likely to do that when we ask the question, “What are we missing?” Asking tough questions causes people to think differently.
5. Give the people around you permission to push back. The best leaders invite the opinions of the people on their teams. Many good minds working together is always better than one working alone.
Keep Learning to Keep Leading
The secret to success can be found in people’s daily agendas. If they do something intentional to grow every day, they move closer to reaching their potential. If they don’t, their potential slowly slips away over the course of their lifetime. If you want to be a good leader, you’ve got to be a good learner. If you don’t have a plan for personal growth, then don’t expect to grow!
Leaders Distinguish Themselves During Tough Times
Every leader faces tough times — and that’s when leaders distinguish themselves and show who they really are. Leading others can be very difficult and can take great courage. Every change, every challenge and every crisis requires a tough call, and the way those are handled is what separates leaders from everyone else.
People Quit People, Not Companies
Some sources estimate that as many as 65 percent of people leaving companies do so because of their managers. We may say that people quit their job or their company, but the reality is that they usually quit their leaders. The “company” doesn’t do anything negative to them. People do.
Most leaders can make a good impression on employees when they first meet. Add to that the optimism people have when they start a new job. They want a new job to work out. But over time, leaders will be recognized for who they really are, not who they are trying to appear to be. If a boss is a jerk, it’s only a matter of time before an employee knows it.
People Will Summarize Your Life in One Sentence — Pick It Now
A legacy is something we leave for the next generation. It can be possessions that we place in the hands of others. It can be principles we lived by that carry on beyond our lives. It also can be people we have influenced whose lives are better as a result of knowing us.
Someday you are going to die. And eventually your life will be summarized in a single sentence. What do you want yours to be? Clare Booth Luce cleverly called this your “life sentence.” If you are intentional about creating your legacy, people at your funeral won’t have to wonder what your life sentence was.