Many people think that leaders are born, not made and that if they aren’t officially a Manager, Director, Executive Directory, Vice President, President or CEO, that they are really a leader.
I beg to differ. Leadership is a set of specific behaviors that can be learned.
Here are seven keys I believe are critical to transforming ordinary people into extraordinary leaders.
1. Evoke the emotions of others
True leaders inspire people. They touch their hearts on issues that are important to them. They raise hope while acknowledging and accepting the human frailties we all possess. Leaders make people connect the change they are striving to cause to their own needs and desires.
2. Believe in people
It’s hard for us to see skeptics or critical, negative people as leaders because they don’t do anything proactive to make us feel good about ourselves. On the other hand, leaders see the rough diamonds buried in our hearts and bring them to light so that WE can see them too.
3. Have a compelling vision and be passionate in expressing it
Great leaders see a future that is dramatically different than the present we live in and they don’t keep it a secret. They articulate that future and tell us WHY it’s important that we move toward it. They know they are on the right track even when the rest of the world is still asleep to or in denial about the problem.
4. Never give up but stay flexible
Leaders with big visions are often seen as crack pots or zealots before the masses catch on to the imoportance of their platform. Expect to encounter some resistance at the beginning, but don’t give up on what you believe in. Do however, stay present to new developments and trends and what’s on the minds of the people in your burgeoning ‘tribe’. Find common ground with them an incorporate what you can into your vision, but don’t dilute it too much by trying to please everyone. You won’t.
5. Be an exemplary model
The increased visibility that your leadership will generate will put you in the spotlight. Keep your hands clean. Don’t be tempted by your growing power and influence. Also, don’t avoid leadershp if you have a shady past. If you have truly repented, take ownership for your humanity and mistakes. Share what you’ve learned from your errant ways and promise to stay on the straight and narrow. And then stay there.
6. Demonstrate integrity
Keep your word. Be consistent in your actions. Do what you say you’re going to do. Tell the truth. Make decisions your mother, spouse, children, grandmother would be proud of. Live as though your life will be played out in the media because it might actually end up there.
7. Ask for input and help
Don’t try to get to ‘the promised land’ alone. You can’t. And even if you do, it won’t be very gratifying. As you enroll others in your vision, identify key people in your cause and solicit their opinions and help. The more people you have actively engaged and on the bandwagon with you leading others as well, the easier your road trip will be.
Do these things consistently and you’ll find yourself living a fulfilled life, making a difference and leaving the world in a better place than you found it. That is your purpose so go live it.