Be known for pleasing others, especially if you govern them…
Ruling others has one advantage:
you can do more good than anyone else.
I have just returned to one of the many “worst” meetings of my life. You know the ones that fall off agenda early in the game, way too many people talking at the same time, little order, no control and last waaaay too long. So I was prompted to write about leadership again tonight. You know, each and every one of us has the potential, opportunity and responsibility to become the best leaders we can. And to abuse one of my favorite mixed metaphors, it’s not rocket surgery. It requires a willingness to put in the work to learn to do and be better.
Fernando Lamas/ Billy Crystal was wrong
A long time ago, Billy Crystal, doing an imitation of Fernando Lamas said, “It is better to look good than to be good.” Unfortunately, many people have bought into this deluded mindset and concentrate on how they look to others rather than focusing on the work and the outcomes. Good leadership is not just about standing in front of the pack, or looking good as the head honcho, or lording your title over others. A good leader must also act. All too frequently, we get sidetracked about how someone looks or sounds as the leader, and all too infrequently do we actually take a look at the actions they perform, or lead others to perform. And, this is the true test of leadership.
How do you become a better leader?
In addition to the ability to lead others, you must also be willing to lead yourself well also. No one succeeds in life by simply following others. Sometimes we simply must strike a bold new path for ourselves. In order for you to become a better leader, you need to concentrate on your actions rather than on simple appearances. Here are a few actions that you may want to consider as you work to improve your leadership style and stance.
1. Keep an open mind about new possibilities
Be diligent and start to pay more attention to what is going on in your surrounds. Keep your eyes and ears open because you never know when, or even exactly how, opportunities may present themselves.
2. Accept all inspiration, as it comes to you
The smartest of leaders make it a regular practice to study their competition. In war, politics, and business you will constantly see examples of research and reconnaissance. However, leaders who are not very skilled in this tend to concentrate on looking for weaknesses they can exploit. If you want to a be a leader of positive change, do not fall victim to this trend. Instead, if you find a weakness, take the lesson from it, and find ways to circumvent it yourself. If you find a particular strength that you think may be useful, then find a way to strengthen your own qualities in this area.
3. As my grandmother used to say, “The day is not wasted if you have learned something.”
Learn something new, or a new way of doing something, every day. This means that you must constantly be looking to expand your horizons, both internally and externally. Feed your mind with new lessons and knowledge, but continue to expand your social horizons as well. Seek out and meet new people and immerse yourself in new social situations. You never know when or how these new experiences will help you in your leadership role.
4. Look deeper
Search for and find new answers in the subtle and sublime. Search beneath the surface answers and constantly question. This is an extension of #3 in that you are still seeking new knowledge. But this also means that you will need to step off the traditional grid of knowledge, out of the proverbial box, outside of your silo. And, don’t just read the stuff that “everybody” in your circle is reading. Take some seminars where there is more room for questioning and debate. Seek out the unconventional thinkers, teachers, and writers.
5. Improvise more
Improvise if there no existing or immediate solution are available. No excuses. Necessity really is the mother of invention. How do you know that your quirky idea will not work if you have never tried it before? Remember, not all approaches need to come from the front. Look at your problem from all angles and systematically try different solutions in varying and different combinations.
6. Make someone happy
Make at least one person that you care about happy every single day. If you make it a point to be thoughtful and caring for one person every day then soon this thoughtful, caring behavior will become a habit for you, and will begin to spread and infect those around you. Making someone else happy also feeds your own personal happiness. Just imagine how much better the world, and especially the workplace, would be if we all did a little bit more to spread happiness.
7. Help without expectation
Offer your assistance, even if there is no apparent gain for you. This means that you have to do more than write a check. It means that you have to give of your time and energy and of yourself. Sometimes it will mean helping someone you don’t know, and sometimes it will be a very personal action.
8. Be positive
Never let negativity be your last word on the subject. If your final words are negative then no matter how hopeful you may be about the potential of a project or action the lasting impression you have left with others is one of negativity. Accentuate the positive and you are more likely to see a positive outcome.
Leadership is not about title or looking good at doing something. In fact, for many, there are no titles or accolades involved in the work they do as leaders. Leadership is about doing the right thing and leading others forward for a common cause. Being, who you are is certainly an important component of leadership, but ultimately leadership is about doing. These steps will help you not only be a better leader to others, but also lead yourself to a more successful life.