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  • Writer's pictureRobert A. Dougan, M.A.

Being A Leader Starts With You!

I recently read a short article by Kevin Kruse of Forbes Magazine and he defined some of the characteristics of what is not Leadership such as:

“Leadership has nothing to do with seniority or one’s position in the hierarchy of a company. Too many talk about a company’s leadership referring to the senior most executives in the organization. They are just that, senior executives. Leadership does not automatically happen when you reach a certain pay grade. Hopefully, you find it there, but there are no guarantees.”

“Leadership has nothing to do with titles. Like the point above, just because you have a C-level title, doesn’t automatically make you a “leader.” In all of my talks I stress the fact that you don’t need a title to lead. In fact, you can be a leader in your place of worship, your neighborhood, in your family, all without having a title.”

“Leadership isn’t management. This is the big one. Leadership and management are not synonymous. You have 15 people in your downline and P&L responsibility? Good for you, hopefully you are a good manager. Good management is needed. Managers need to plan, measure, monitor, coordinate, solve, hire, fire, and so many other things. Typically, managers manage things. Leaders lead people.”

The Real Leaders

In my tenure I have worked with several people from some of the top companies in North America as a Consultant, and I’ve had the privilege to have worked along side some amazing Leaders. However, it is sad to say, but I have also certainly seen my fair share of people who think they are leaders. Of the ones who have failed as Leaders, they certainly fit the characteristics noted in the above article, but they also let their ego go to their head in terms of entitlement and authority.

The best Leaders that I have met over the years have been inspiring, approachable, and people with a vision that encourage others to follow that vision. They are not demeaning or policing people, they really fit in with the culture, but they also stand out in a crowd in a positive way. Top Leaders are known to be fair, and prudent, but the one thing most top Leader’s protect is their credibility. Without their credibility and integrity, they lose their followers who ultimately trusted them.

Great Leaders in all capacities really care and believe in the mission and goals of the company or the place in which they lead. They are positive in wanting to succeed, and they value the work of others. Top Leaders do not go on “witch hunts” to showcase their power of authority to others. Top Leaders in fact look for the strengths of the company, and its people to determine how individuals can stretch themselves to achieve better results. In this context, top Leaders search for positives and common ground where there is a win-win situation for everyone.

It Starts With Leading Yourself

Leading starts with you and how you lead your life! The great leaders I have met take care of themselves emotionally, physically, their energy, and some even spiritually. You cannot expect to lead others if you do not take a “lead” in taking care of yourself!

You shine as a leader through how you live your life. If you live your life not trusting others, looking at the negative then you will certainly have those traits come through when you attempt to lead others. Leading by example in the way you lead your life reflects on who you are as a Leader.

Leading does take courage, and at some point, you will have to grab hold of that baton, whether it is in your own life, your volunteerism, family, and work. Be prepared to understand what it takes to be a Leader and do not get caught up in the sense of entitlement, but rather just lead in a way that inspires yourself, and you will inspire others.

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