A LEADER WORTH FOLLOWING
While we’re gearing up to host our very first Leadercast conference here at Worx, I write this blog with takeaways that I gathered from some of our previous seminars. Leadercast is an organization and event in the pursuit of creating “leaders worth following.” Inspiring speakers like activist, Malala Yousafzai; actor and filmmaker, Tyler Perry; and author and former Navy Seal Commander, Rorke Denver, are just a few names that have taken the stage in hopes of tapping into a relatable moment for all of us to connect with and apply in our own lives.
What always particularly resonates with me are the leaders that were never called leaders to begin with, but rather redefined the meaning altogether. There’s a looming misconception that if your role doesn’t entail leadership, then you are simply a doer or even worse, “a follower,” however this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Leadership is a lifestyle, not a title. There are countless ways to show leadership in your own life, today.
Do what you do, the best:
Let your work ethic be your mantra. I don’t mean to be competitive to those around you, but by being the best version of yourself that you can be. In my 9 years of playing basketball, I once had a coach tell me, “Be so good that they HAVE to play you, and you’ll never sit the bench.” This comment stuck with me beyond the sport’s life and continues to be a driving motivator for me today. You can be a leader by being the best you can be in your own role, because fulfilling your role means that you are doing the best you can to serve your team. Lead by example by being proficient in where you are now, perform consistently and make a difference through your own actions.
Start speaking more:
One of the biggest disservices you can do for yourself and your team is keep your voice to yourself. We implement a lot of system changers here yearly and sometimes on a monthly basis. Don’t be afraid of thinking outside the current picture, adding to that drawing or changing up the color palette. Question old beliefs, take calculated risks and experiment with new processes. Instead of waiting for something to change, drive the change and bring a solution instead of a problem to the next meeting. The idea behind this is to not stand still if you could be moving in a better direction. Contribute to meetings, because the group needs to hear more of you.
Build up those around you:
It’s no secret that good leaders invest in the people around them; it shows by the way employees treat their customers and each other, and transcends directly into their attitudes and performance. But you don’t always need to be built up from the top down– employees can lean on each other for encouragement and reliability. Dedicate some of your time to new-hires and interns, investing in their future by showing them the ropes, teaching them tips like time management skills and other tools of the trade. Compliment and high-five people when they do a good job, promote yourself to take on more responsibility when you see someone needs help and then demote yourself when someone else’s skillsets are best suited for the job over your own.
Stop avoiding the hard things:
Leaders are often required to take on the hard tasks such as dealing with troublesome clients, working through financial crises and making difficult decisions. Sometimes leadership means questioning authority in a positive way and being a catalyst for change, other times it can mean expanding your role and taking on responsibilities that were never noted in your job description. Sometimes you’ll need to ask uncomfortable questions like “How can we do this better?” and sometimes it’s inconveniencing yourself to take the burden off of another person. Active leaders never complain about getting their hands a little dirty.
Emit positive energy:
You and every single person you work with have a direct impact on the atmosphere you reside in. Especially in small group, energy can be contagious, even palpable, causing a ripple effect onto others. It’s important to lift everyone with positive energy and acknowledge that positivity isn’t just exclusive to good times. It’s most necessary when things are not going so good. One way to do this is to celebrate successes, no matter how big or small and learn to embrace failure. Look at failure as a stepping stone and how to improve and expand upon it. Steve Jobs said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower,” there can’t possibly be innovation without failure, so dig into the humble-pie and get on with the next big idea.
As you can see, you probably possess a lot of the aspects that make up a good leader so long as you have a heart that you’re willing to share. Don’t let your current title hold you back from becoming a leader worth following. And if your current role is a leader, I challenge and encourage you to use this opportunity to lead through serving others. Leadership is a lifestyle created by making a conscious decision to serve outside of yourself until this choice becomes habitual. Become the fearless, selfless leader in your family, work, team and life that you are capable of being, because you are capable.
“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.” –Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook
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