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Why A True Leader Doesn’t Need to Be the Smartest and Most Talented One

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Why A True Leader Doesn’t Need to Be the Smartest and Most Talented One

Alibaba’s Jack Ma, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn all have one thing in common: They’re widely regarded as some of the best leaders in the world today.

But what really makes a great leader?

Is it about knowing how to manage – or is it something entirely different?

What Everyone Is Wrong About Leadership

You may assume that great leadership is all about management – but you would be mistaken.

As you’ll see shortly, leadership encompasses much more than just good management skills.

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However, before we dive into exactly what makes a great leader, let’s first take a look at some of the common myths about leadership:

  • Great leaders can be trained – While knowledge can be valuable, leadership is more about attitude.
  • Great leaders only give orders – Giving orders will at times be necessary, but powerful leadership inspires actions.
  • Great leaders know everything – This may appear to be true, but in reality, great leaders are learning all the time.
  • Great leaders never fail – It’s impossible to achieve great success, without experiencing many failures along the way.
  • Great leaders work alone – You may think of a leader as a lone wolf, but in most cases, leaders love to work with others.

Hopefully, as you’re beginning to see, real leadership is not about macho posturing and dictatorial management.

What True Leadership Really Means

So, what exactly is true leadership?

John Quincy Adams described it this way:

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

It’s an excellent quote, that I’m sure will help you to gain a new perspective on leadership.

Whether it’s politics, business or social causes – great leaders have a definite vision, and know how to inspire and motivate others to help realize that vision.

They do this through traits such as:

  • Promoting values.
  • Encouraging creativity.
  • Building morale.
  • Offering guidance.
  • Fostering initiative.

As an example for you, do you remember Mahatma Gandhi?

He was able to change the destiny of India by using true leadership characteristics such as: determination, humility, honesty and non-violence. His authentic manner and powerful beliefs led to millions of people following and supporting his cause.[1]

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What Makes up a Great Leadership

While the world’s top leaders may be hard to emulate, fortunately, there are several things you can do to begin boosting your leadership qualities.

Let’s take a look…

1. Treat your staff like you expect them to treat your customers.

If you expect your team to be friendly and courteous to customers – then make sure you’re the same with your team members. I remember a manager telling me: “Staff should always be treated like customers.” Adopt this attitude, and your team (and other teams) will be motivated and inspired by your leadership.

2. Practice things that you’re uncomfortable with.

To be a great leader, you’ll need to step out of your comfort zone. If you’re uncomfortable with networking or public speaking (for example), then work on strengthening your skills in these areas. Instead of learning on the job, why not enlist the help of a coach or mentor?

3. Stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends.

Let’s face it, change is the new norm in the 21st century. Whatever your niche or industry, no doubt there are constant amendments, updates and innovations happening daily. As a leader, you need to be aware of these changes. However, don’t become a news junkie, instead, learn to seek out the key trends.

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4. Grow yourself, grow your team.

Stop and think about your personal growth. Does it positively impact your team? Of course it does. But you can take this even further by making sure your staff have continual training and development opportunities. Here’s a suggestion for you… Why not take your team to an industry conference, so they can learn and be inspired by some of the best and most successful people. This is a win-win situation. You and your team will both gain valuable knowledge and skills. And you’ll also be helping to promote a healthy team spirit.

5. Learn to keep promises.

Your credibility can be crushed by unfulfilled promises, such as giving your team an expectation of financial bonuses – that never materialize. To be a successful leader, you must always try to keep your promises. Sure, it takes discipline and integrity to achieve this. But in the long term, it will definitely be worth it.

6. Set inspiring goals.

Outstanding leaders always have goals and aims that they are working towards. These could be financial goals, subscriber numbers, or even customer satisfaction targets. Of course, goals can be big, small, short or long term. But you must have them, if you want to achieve success. If your staff know the specific goals that you want to achieve – this will help and inspire them to assist you in reaching these goals.

7. Seek honest feedback.

It’s not easy listening to honest feedback, but often it’s the difference between mediocrity and excellence. Rather than waiting for unsolicited feedback, go ahead and ask your staff and customers what they really think about you and your leadership style. You could also ask them whether they have any suggestions for building your effectiveness as a leader. Just remember, great leaders are not afraid to listen to criticism. Instead, they look on this feedback as an opportunity for learning.

You may not be a natural born leader – but by following the above suggestions you’ll be able to progressively develop your leadership qualities.

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Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

[1] History: Mohandas Gandi

More by this author

Craig J Todd

UK Writer who loves to use the power of words to inspire and motivate.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2022

How to Use Travel Time Effectively

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How to Use Travel Time Effectively

Most of us associate travel and time with what we’re going to do one we get to our destination. Planning and mapping out what to do once you arrive can certainly make for a more pleasurable vacation, but there are things you can do while you are on your way that can make it even better.

Sure, you can plan for the things you’re going to do on your vacation while you are travelling en route – but what about making use of that time for other things that you don’t usually do when you’re at home? You don’t need to have your gadgets with you to do it, and you can really connect with yourself if you take the time to manage your life while heading towards your vacation destination.

Here are some great tips to help you with your time management while you travel, some of which are more conventional than others. Nonetheless, you can find out what works best for you and apply them accordingly depending on when and how you are travelling.

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1. Take Your Time Getting There

As I write this, I’m on a flight to San Francisco. Flying is the fastest way to get from place to place, and for many people it’s really the only way to travel.

But I’ve often taken the train or ferry on trips so that I have extra time without distraction to get more done. I’m not worrying about navigation or lack of space to do what I want to do. Instead I’m able to focus on getting stuff done during the time I’ve got without feeling rushed. For example, when I took the train from Vancouver to Portland, it was an eight hour trip and I managed to get a ton of writing done and closed a lot of open loops. It also was less expensive than flying, which was a bonus.

Sometimes taking the long way to get somewhere on vacation can be the best thing for you to get somewhere with your life.

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2. Go Gadget-Free

This is going to be a tough one for a lot of you. But why do you need to bring your gadgets with you when you go on vacation? It isn’t be a bad idea to leave all but one of them behind, and only pull out that one when you absolutely need to do so. In some countries, you’d be wise to be discreet with them anyway since flaunting them in front of those that are less fortunate than you isn’t a good practice. While it may not seem like flaunting to you, in different cultures it can definitely come across that way.

If you can’t go gadget-free, then at least go Internet-free. If you use a task management app that requires syncing across your multiple devices to be effective, remember that if you only have the one device with you then it can be the “master device” for the time being and will store your data locally anyway. Just sync up when you get home.

3. Reflect and Prepare

Finally, going on any sort of excursion gives you the perfect opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been. The fact you have removed yourself from where you usually are can give you a perspective that you simply can’t get when you’re at home. You may want to journal your thoughts during this time – and by taking more time to get to your destination you’ll have more time to dig deeper into it.

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After a period of reflection – however long that happens to be – you can then begin to not only prepare for the rest of your travels, you can prepare for the rest of what happens afterward. The reflection period is important, though. You need to really know where you’ve been in order to properly look at where you want to be. Time away from things gives you that chance.

Conclusion

Traveling isn’t always about where you’re going and how quickly you can get there. In fact, it’s rarely about that at all.

More often it’s where you’re at in your head that will dictate how much you benefit from traveling. So don’t just go somewhere fast. Instead, take your time on the way there and take the time to connect with not only where you are but who are while you’re there.

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If you do that, you’ll have a better chance to be who you want to be when you leave.

Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

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