What leadership is and isn't. -By Johnny Roman

We often hear the expression: "be a leader". Whether its at work, school, or even in the family setting, we are bombarded with the idea that having a position of leadership is what engenders respect and acceptance from others. Little wonder that in most major organizations, CEO's are lauded and paraded before the masses in television, newspapers, and biographies as the ones we should all aspire to be.

There is nothing wrong with having the goal of being a leader in your job or other professional setting. The problems arise when one wants to lead for greater prominence or even worse, follows a defective leadership strategy. In this divided and uncertain world, competent leaders are in short supply. If you have pure and sincere motives to want to lead, that is the first building block to becoming a proficient and exemplary leader. Incredibly, even the most famous and successful people throughout history failed at the most basic concepts of good leadership. How can you be a great leader then? By doing the following things:

1). Be humble.

If you receive that long desired promotion at your job or start your own business with your own employees, remember that the key to greatness is not your authority. Having authority over others is not your defining legacy. Its how you wield your authority while constructing a productive workplace that will determine whether you succeed or fail as a leader. If you view your colleagues as inferior to you, then you have already clinched your failure as a leader before you have even begun. On the contrary, if you genuinely view your colleagues as peers worthy of respect, then your leadership will inspire and not demoralize. Keep cultivating the mindset that your employees professional goals and concerns should be valued when implementing your strategies and leadership style.

2). Commendation is empowering for you and others.

When you focus constantly on the flaws and setbacks of those under your leadership, you will alienate them in no time. Instead, never hesitate to commend them for a job well done, especially when they demonstrated fine attributes in the accomplishment of their duties. Simple phrases such as "I really appreciate the good work you have done for us", or "Im so glad you are on our team", will go a long way towards building a robust camaraderie and respect between you and them.

3). Set the tone and example.

One of the biggest mistake some leaders make is by simply ordering employees to do things that they themselves would never want to do. In other words, the most menial or burdensome tasks they will delegate others to do. Granted in some organizations, the higher up you go your duties will primarily be based on problem solving and organizing. Yet, there are few more powerful things in the workplace than seeing a boss who is willing to get his hands dirty for the benefit of the team and the mission. In a previous job, I had a supervisor who never hesitated to sweep and mop or lift up the heaviest boxes just to ensure that the job got done. That always inspired me to do the same. In my subsequent managerial positions, I did the same thing and realized that my colleagues gravitated to me quickly for being industrious. By all means delegate when you have to, but don't minimize the importance of showing them by your actions how things are done.

4). Be a patient teacher.

In any organization, the art of training someone properly is a critical component to any leadership position. Some leaders can become intimidating and overbearing while training others on their duties. If this describes your leadership style, then there is still time to change. To develop a competent team, your training and patience will help determine if you achieve it or not. If your colleagues see that you are irritable when teaching them or impatient when they make mistakes, you can be sure that they will all be walking on egg shells when you are present. This will increase the chances for more mistakes and low morale; All of which can lead to unprofitability and stagnation in your organization. On the other hand, think of how rewarding it is when you are able to cultivate competent workers and future leaders who flourish under your direction!

5). Be discreet.

Confidentiality is becoming scarce in the workplace. When an employee confides in you to help resolve a workplace issue or other grievance, it is imperative that you don't breach that confidentiality and privacy. If you divulge that information to the wrong person or group, you will lose the respect of your staff and colleagues. The same thing applies when you have to discipline or counsel a colleague. If you start reprimanding them in the presence of others, you can be sure that you will be sabotaging your success and that of your organization.

6). Be flexible and rewarding.

No one likes to work under someone who is excessively rigid and strict. If a colleague kindly asks for that personal day off to attend to other matters, don't give them a hard time. Hear them out and be accommodating as much as possible. Also, don't hesitate in rewarding your colleagues for good performance. If they see that you are willing to invest in their good work, you can be sure that they will go out of their way to work hard for you. Being receptive to other ideas to facilitate the task at hand will also buy you more respect.

There are many other behaviors that successful and profitable leaders do. The six things outlined here are the foundation to build upon. If we all want to succeed professionally and socially, then it never hurts to improve our abilities as leaders and workers. That way, contentment for you and those you work with will not be so elusive.


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