Have you ever heard of John Maxwell? He is an author who has written multiple books on leadership, including the international best-seller “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.” Maxwell says that leaders need to lead by example. As any parent will tell you, children do what children see and the same goes for adults. Studies suggest that this method is particularly effective for leaders because it builds trust and encourages others to follow their lead.
There are a few simple things you can incorporate into your leadership style that will set a good example for others to follow.
Casting Vision – Leaders See More and Before
Throughout history great leaders have demonstrated the importance of seeing the big picture. Some of the greatest leaders were those who had vision and saw things that others either could not see or refused to acknowledge. They saw more and before and shared their vision to improve the quality of life for everyone. The most effective leaders believe in their ability to establish innovation, propel progress, and succeed in all endeavors. Great leaders share their vision with others and inspire them to be a part of that vision.
Positive Focus – Leaders Are Dealers in Hope
Having vision or what the future can look like gives people hope. Nothing of valuable as ever been created without first having hope. Leaders who are optimistic offer something uplifting and inspire others to think big – which is exactly what was needed for most everything of importance (if not all) throughout history.
Leaders at their best will always find ways to give their followers the hope of achieving something great even in the midst of conflict and crisis. It’s well known that leaders who understand the importance of giving others hope not only become much more effective but also exemplary role models who can be trusted by those whose lives they touch. A great leader knows how important it is to not only show others that change is possible but that they themselves have the ability to make it happen; otherwise, there’s little chance at succeeding as a leader.
Be Solution Oriented
Whenever you discover a problem in your company, instead of complaining about it constantly, channel a positive attitude and channel the energy of a solution-seeker. You see a problem? Go after it and seek a solution. It’s important to offer practical solutions for challenges and problems rather than just complaining about it. People want leaders who can solve problems, not just point them out.
If all you ever do is talk about the problem and never the solution people will begin to turn you out and turn a deaf ear toward what you have to say. When a customer complains you pay attention but if that same customer is constantly complaining, then they become that “difficult” one that no one wants to deal with. The same goes for if you are always complaining. You become the one no one wants to work with because you bring everyone else down. It won’t be long before you are asked to find someplace “better suited to your abilities”. Lead by being solution oriented.
Make Tomorrow Better Than Today
We mark the passage of time day by day, year by year celebrating birthdays and other milestones along the way. But just because you are getting older doesn’t mean you are getting better. Getting better and intentionally growing yourself is the only way that happens. If you want your people to improve and get better then you, as the leader must go first. Read books, attend conferences and take classes that challenge your thinking and get you out of your comfort zone. Then share what you are learning with your people.
If you are not investing in personal development, you may be limiting your true potential. Personal development affects your entire life, not just your work life or your personal life. It’s amazing how many people bother to improve themselves. These are the same people that wonder why they are not getting anywhere with their lives.
Keep Your Ear to the Ground
As a leader, it’s your job to know what’s going on at all times. Don’t be so busy giving orders and guidance that you miss listening to your team members and actually hear the advice they offer. The benefits of listening to what you team members have to say are two-fold.
First you get ideas and opinions of people with a slightly different perspective than yours. Even though you may be an expert in what you do, you can’t know everything. There may be a few good team members who can teach you a thing or two and provide great feedback about your team.
Second, you’ll find you get more buy-in from the team for they feel they have a say in how things are done and have contributed to the team’s success. Every time you acknowledge their contribution, they feel important to the team effort and valued by you. This appreciation in turn will have them looking for more ways to contribute to the team success.
Don’t take your team for granted. Your team makes you look good – so never take one or all of them for granted, but consider each as an important asset to what you desire to accomplish. People are pretty good at knowing when others appreciate them. They can sense if your gratitude is genuine or phony. To sincerely appreciate them can change the entire dynamic of the relationship.
People will rise to a higher expectation if they feel that their effort is truly appreciated. If you express doubt or skepticism, they will return your lack of gratitude with lack of effort, doing only what is required of them if that.
Also, assume (until you’re shown differently) that each person on the team is a good and honest person who you can trust and rely on.
Let Values Be Your Anchor
In times like these when we are saturated with advertisements and our daily lives appear to have been reduced down to a simple consumerist routine, it is important to remember that all the stuff in the world will never replace the value of knowing what we stand for. That’s why in order to be an effective leader we must learn how to choose what values we wish to represent on our lives and in our organizations. In doing so, you will easily rise and attract like-minded people who will follow you because they share your values and vision.
Hold yourself and those who work with you to a high level of honesty and ethical conduct. Your family and followers are reflections of you, so if you practice honest and ethical behavior, they will follow your pattern.
Someone is Always Watching
As we look at the world around us, there are leaders in every area doing their best to improve lives. It’s important to keep in mind that the world is watching; our country, our community and our businesses. As leaders within our own private organizations, remember that when you’re in charge, you’re also being watched by your employees who are depending on you for your expertise and leadership.
If your employees are unhappy or growing disenchanted with working for your organization, they will eventually leave to find a workplace where they will be happier and more motivated. When employees see someone who is energetic, inspiring and motivational in their professional life, they stand up and take notice. You have the potential to create something truly great. We all do.
Expect great things, offer solutions, and consider how your unique personality can inspire to complete some of those hard-to-tackle challenges. There will be times when you feel challenged as a leader. We all are. Lean on your team and they will support you if you have shown them how by being a good example. Be the type of leader that people are willing to follow anywhere.
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