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

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

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Craig J Todd

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

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity

Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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