Advertising
Advertising

4 Things Every True Leader Wants You to Know

4 Things Every True Leader Wants You to Know

There are lots of leadership seminars and workshops and conferences out there. They all aim to help individuals step up their business game and go from just another person with a good idea to a full-fledged entrepreneur who’s ready to take on the world. It sounds great on the events’ flashy websites and colorful brochures, but still, there are many people who believe that leaders — true leaders — are born rather than made.

We’ve all come across these people in our lives: the true leaders who understand how to build rapport with anyone and everyone, who have a vision, who can cut a path through any rough terrain and inspire others to follow. Or, perhaps you possess these characteristics yourself; maybe you know how to make people feel good when they’re working with you, and maybe you understand that while there are many roads to success, they all require hard work, determination, and initiative along the way.

Advertising

Whether you’re a true leader or you work with one, you know that true leaders seem to possess a different and special set of knowledge that allows them to be successful in any and all ventures. What’s more, understanding how a true leader thinks can not only help you in your career, but it may also bring out leadership qualities that you didn’t even know you had. Here are four things every true leader wants you to know.

Advertising

They want to trust you, and They want you to trust them.

True leaders know that strong relationships ultimately determine success much more than any other factor. And, for relationships to be good, there has to be a high level of trust. True leaders are willing to extend their trust to the people they work with, and in return, they expect their team members to trust their leadership skills and good judgment. True leaders want the people they work with to do great work, meet deadlines, and have passion for the mission at hand. Similarly, true leaders will exhibit these same characteristics: they’ll keep commitments and promises, and they’ll always get the job done well. They’ll be 100% accountable, and they’ll expect the people around them to be accountable as well.

Advertising

They’re not here to do it tomorrow.

True leaders take a real Jeffersonian, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” approach. There’s simply no time for procrastination, for slacking off, or for tabling things until a later date. A true leader[1] knows that there’s never any time quite like the present for working toward success. It’s true that some leaders make take this characteristic to an extreme — Elon Musk, for example, is known for being an obsessive workaholic, often at the expense of just about every other aspect of his life — so some perspective on work-life balance is always important. Still, true leaders know that if it can be done, it’s best to do it now.

They are going to challenge you.

If a true leader asks you to tackle a particularly challenging task, please understand that it’s not punishment! Rather, a true leader understands that his or her team members won’t grow in their skills and knowledge without being pushed a little. They know that if their employees do the same types of tasks over and over, they’ll become stuck in a rut, and that boredom will never lead to progression. With that in mind, a true leader will assess your abilities and continually ask you to grow them, essentially testing the tensile strength of your skill set. Will you rise to the occasion, or will you break under pressure? True leaders know that more often than not, you’ll be able to accept the challenges they throw your way.

They’re nothing without their team members.

“If no one is following you, are you really a leader?” is a question posed by many, including Dr. Maurice Roussety, a consulting strategist and leadership expert. True leaders understand that the answer is no; they know that their main job is to motivate and inspire others. Without a good team of passionate individuals working with them, they really can’t achieve the level of success they’re after. Finally, true leaders are always more interested in making their team members look good than taking all the credit themselves. They know that success is rarely an individual effort, and if they’re genuine about their leadership, they’re always grateful to anyone and everyone who’s pitched in.

Advertising

Reference

More by this author

Erick Clifford

Journalist

16 Young And Successful Entrepreneurs Who Prove That Age Is Nothing but a Number This Is The Secret Recipe For A Healthy Living 6 Essentials You Need to Consider Before Starting an Online Business 4 Things Every True Leader Wants You to Know Life Insurance: A Secure Way To Protect Your Future.

Trending in Leadership

1 5 Key Traits of a Charismatic Leadership 2 10 Leadership Goals That Strong Leaders Set for Themselves 3 12 Effective Time Management Skills for Managers 4 10 Essential People Management Skills Every Manager Needs 5 4 Types of Management Styles to Master to Become a Strong Leader

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 21, 2019

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

How to Be a Good Leader and Lead Effectively

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a contender for the 2020 Democratic nomination, is a reminder of why I am so drawn to leadership as a topic. Whenever I think it is impossible for me to be more impressed with her, she proves me wrong.

Earlier this week, a former marine suggested that he had been in a long-term sexual relationship with the Senator. She flipped the narrative and used the term “Cougar,” a term used to describe older women who date younger men, to reference her alma mater.

Rather than calling the young man a liar, or responding to the accusations in kind, she re-focused the conversation back to her message of college affordability and lifted up that “Cougar” was the mascot for her alma mater. She went on to note that tuition at her school was just $50 per semester when she was a student. Class act.

But by the end of the week, news broke that U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, another contender for the presidency, had a heart attack. Warren not only wished Sanders a speedy recovery but her campaign sent a meal to his staff. She knew that the hopes of staff, donors and supporters were with the Senator from Vermont and showed genuine compassion and empathy.

To me, she has proven time and time again that she is more than a presidential candidate: she belongs in a leadership hall of fame.

What makes some people excel as leaders is fascinating. You can read about leadership, research it and talk about it, yet the interest in leadership alone will not make you a better leader.

You will have more information than the average person, but becoming a good leader is lifelong work. It requires experience – and lots of it. Most importantly, it requires observation and a commitment to action. Warren observed what was happening with Sen. Sanders, empathized with his team and then took action. Regardless of the outcome of this election, Sanders’ staff will likely never forget her gesture.

Advertising

You would have had to work on a political campaign in order to appreciate the stress and anxiety that comes with it. In this moment, staff may not remember everything that Warren said throughout the lengthy campaign, but they will remember what she did during an unforgettable time during the campaign.

If this model of leadership is appealing, and if you are searching for how to up your own leadership game, read on for six characteristics that good leaders share:

1. Good leaders are devoted to the success of the people around them.

Good leaders are not self-interested. Sure, they want to succeed, but they also want others to succeed.

Good leaders see investing in others just as important as they see investing in themselves. They understand that their success is closely tied to the people around them, and they work to ensure that their peers, employees, friends and family have paths for growth and development.

While the leaders may be the people in the spotlight, they are quick to point to the people around them who helped them (the leaders) enter that spotlight. Their willingness to lift others inspires their colleagues’ and friends’ devotion and loyalty.

2. Good leaders are not overly dependent on others’ approval.

It is important for managers to express their support for their teams; good leaders must be independent of the approval of others. I explained in an article for The Chronicle of Philanthropy, that:[1]

“While a desire to be loved is natural, managers who prioritize approval from subordinates will become ineffective supervisors who may do employees harm. For example, a manager driven by a need for approval may shy away from delivering constructive feedback that could help an employee improve. A manager fearful of upsetting someone may tolerate behavior that degrades the work environment and culture.”

In yet another example, a manager who is dependent on the approval of others may not make decisions that could be deemed unpopular in the short run but necessary in the long run.

Think of the coaches who integrated their sporting teams. Their decision to do so, may have seemed odd, and even wrong, in the moment, but time has proven that those leaders were on the right side of history.

3. Good leaders have the capacity to share the spotlight.

Attention is nice, but it is not the prime motivator for good leaders. Doing a good job is.

For this reason, good leaders are willing to share the spotlight. They aren’t threatened by a lack of attention, and they do not need credit for every accomplishment. They are too focused on their goal and too focused on the urgency of their work.

4. Good leaders are students.

In the same way that human beings are constantly evolving, so too are leaders. As long as you are living, you have the potential to learn. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you think you have; you can always learn something new.

I have the experience of thinking I was doing everything right as a manager, only to receive conflicting feedback from my team. Perhaps my approach was not working for my team, and I had to be willing to hear their feedback to improve.

Good leaders understand that their secret sauce is their willingness to keep receiving information and keep learning. They aren’t intimidated by what they do not know: As long as they maintain a willingness to keep growing, they believe they can overcome any obstacle they face.

Advertising

As both masters and students, good leaders read, listen and study to grow. They consume content for information, not just entertainment purposes. They aren’t impressed with their knowledge; they are impressed with the learning journey.

5. Good leaders view vulnerability as a superpower.

It means “replacing ‘professional distance and cool,’ with uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure,” said Emma Sappala in a Dec. 11, 2014, article, “What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable” for Harvard Business Journal.[2] She went on to note the importance of human connection, which she asserts is often missing at work.

“As leaders and employees, we are often taught to keep a distance and project a certain image. An image of confidence, competence and authority. We may disclose our vulnerability to a spouse or close friend behind closed doors at night but we would never show it elsewhere during the day, let alone at work.”

This rings so true for me as a woman leader. I was raised believing that any show of emotion in the workplace could be used against me. I was raised believing that it was best for women leaders to be stoic and to “never let ‘em see you sweat.” This may have prevented me from connecting with employees and colleagues on a deeper, more personal level.

6. Good leaders understand themselves.

I am a huge fan of life coach and spiritual teacher Iyanla Vanzant. In addition to her hit show on the OWN network, Vanzant has authored dozens of books. In her books and teachings, she underscores the importance of knowing ourselves fully. She argues that we must know what makes us tick, what makes us happy and what makes us angry.

Self-awareness enables us to put ourselves in situations where we can thrive, and it also enables us to have compassion when we fall short of the goals and expectations we have for ourselves. Relatedly, understanding ourselves will allow us to know our strength. When we know our strengths, we will be able to put people around us who compliment our strengths and fill the gaps in our leadership.

Final Thoughts

Being a good leader, first and foremost, is an inside job. You must focus on growing as a person regardless of the leadership title that you hold. You cannot take others where you yourself have not been. So focusing on yourself, regardless of your time or where you are in your career will have long term benefits for you and the people around you.

Advertising

Further, if you want to become a good leader, you should start by setting the intention to do so. What you focus on grows. If you focus on becoming a better leader, you will research and invest in things that help you to fulfill this intention. You will also view the good and bad leadership experiences as steppingstones that hone your character and help you improve.

After you set the intention, get really clear on what a good leader looks like to you. Each of us has a different understanding of leadership. Is a good leader someone who takes risk? Is a good leader, in your estimation, someone who develops other leaders? Whatever it is, know what you’re shooting for. Once you define what it means to be a good leader, look for people who exemplify your vision. Watch and engage with them if you can.

Finally, understand that becoming a good leader doesn’t happen overnight. You must continually work at improving, investing in yourself and reflecting on what is going well and what you must improve. In this way, every experience is an opportunity to grow and a chance to ask: ‘What is this experience trying to teach me?’ or ‘what action is necessary based on this situation?’

If you are committed to questioning, evaluating and acting, you are that much closer to becoming a better leader.

More About Effective Leadership

Featured photo credit: Sam Power via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Why Good Managers Overcome the Desire to Be Liked
[2] Harvard Business Journal: What Bosses Gain by being Vulnerable

Read Next