How To Be a True Leader
- Guest Author
- August 26, 2016
- Career Development
- No responses
Leadership is an important aspect of our current working environment. For companies, it is a great privilege to have natural leaders in their payroll because it allows them to develop new successful strategies to effectively satisfy the need of their clients. Ralph M. Stogdill has pointed out that there are as many definitions for leadership as people have thought about the concept, and among some of them, the definition of the Dictionary of Behavioral Sciences stands out the most. It defines leadership as the result of including both the capacities and the personality of a human being, allowing them to become the guide of a group. It also defines it as the influence that a person has on their group, team or organization, to make clear that to make leadership happen, you need more than one person.
In this order of ideas, a recent article from the prestigious Dr. Travis Bradberry in The Huffington Post mentions the six fundamental things great leaders do differently and we would like to share them with you:
- They are kind without being weak: One of the toughest things for leaders to master is kindness. Kindness shares credit and offers enthusiastic praise for others’ work. It is a balancing act, between being genuinely kind and not looking weak. The key to finding that balance is to recognize that true kindness is inherently strong—it is direct and straightforward. Telling people the difficult truth they need to hear is much kinder than protecting them (or yourself) from a difficult conversation. This is weak. True kindness also does not come with expectations. Kindness is weak when you use it in a self-serving manner. Self-serving kindness is thin—people can see right through it when a kind leader has an agenda. Think of Schultz, who dedicated $250 million to employee education with no strings attached, and as soon as employees finish their degree, they are free to walk out the door. That is true kindness.
- They are strong without being harsh: Strength is an important quality in a leader. People will wait to see if a leader is strong before they decide to follow his or her lead or not. People need courage in their leaders. They need someone who can make difficult decisions and watch over the good of the group. They need a leader who will stay the course when things get tough. People are far more likely to show strength themselves when their leader does the same. Many leaders mistake domineering, controlling, and otherwise harsh behavior for strength. They think that taking control and pushing people around will somehow inspire a loyal following. Strength is not something you can force on people; it is something you earn by demonstrating it time and again in the face of adversity. Only then will people trust that they should follow you.
- They are confident, without being cocky: We gravitate to confident leaders because confidence is contagious, and it helps us to believe that there are great things in store. The trick, as a leader, is to make certain your confidence does not slip into arrogance and cockiness. Confidence is about passion and belief in your ability to make things happen, but when your confidence loses touch with reality, you begin to think you can do things you cannot and have done things you have not. Suddenly it is all about you. This arrogance makes you lose credibility. Great, confident leaders are still humble. They do not allow their accomplishments and position of authority to make them feel that they are better than anyone else. As such, they do not hesitate to jump in and do the dirty work when needed, and they do not ask their followers to do anything they are not willing to do themselves.
- They stay positive, but remain realistic: Another major challenge that leaders face is finding the balance between keeping things positive and still being realistic. Think of a sailboat with three people aboard: a pessimist, an optimist, and a great leader. Everything is going smoothly until the wind suddenly sours. The pessimist throws his hands up and complains about the wind; the optimist sits back, saying that things will improve; but the great leaders says, “We can do this!” and he adjusts the sails and keeps the ship moving forward. The right combination of positivity and realism is what keeps things moving forward.
- They are role models, not preachers: Great leaders inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. Many leaders say that integrity is important to them, but great leaders walk their talk by demonstrating integrity every day. Harping on people all day long about the behavior you want to see has a tiny fraction of the impact you achieve by demonstrating that behavior yourself.
- They are willing to take a bullet for their people: The best leaders will do anything for their teams, and they have their people’s backs no matter what. They do not try to shift blame, and they do not avoid shame when they fail. They are never afraid to say, “The buck stops here,” and they earn people’s trust by backing them up. Great leaders also make it clear that they welcome challenges, criticism, and viewpoints other than their own. They know that an environment where people are afraid to speak up, offer insights, and ask good questions is destined for failure.
Leadership is dynamic; it combines a great variety of unique abilities from an individual to make a whole. If you implement these techniques every day in our lives, we guarantee an immediate improvement in our leadership skills.
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