What does it mean to be a leader? In my personal life as well as my professional life I strive to be a person who is looked upon to bring out not just the best in myself on a regular basis but in those around me as well. It is a difficult burden to bear, knowing that there is a different set of expectations placed on me than on my peers.
I have always been a person who placed great expectations upon myself…from a very young age I have set goals and objectives for myself and while there have been times that those goals were not achieved but for the most part I have excelled at moving forward. To me leadership is not as much a quality as it is a state of mind. Expectations whether internal or external can drive a person to great heights or can cripple them into a submissive and subordinate role.
To me, a leader does not stand by and watch others orchestrate a plan, the strength of a work ethic and a never quit attitude are key components of a true leader. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one who would ever say that a Leader should be the master of all things, knowing when to delegate and when to jump in and move a task forward are key.
There are 3 Principles that I look to both in myself and in those that I am assigned to follow and directly impact my willingness to put 110% effort behind that leader:
- Respect – The concept of Respect to me is not something that is automatically earned or should be given without thought and measure. To be a Leader, one must Respect themself, Respect their Role and Respect those around them…if those three components are there…then I will have no issue with giving Respect.
- Principles – Whether I agree with them or not, having Principles and Ethics are important. Believing in “something” is key but also not wavering from those Principles as a matter of convenience or to fit a given circumstances.
- Work Ethic – One of the biggest lessons my parents instilled in me is a solid work ethic. To not work harder and longer than those around me is just not in my nature. I arrive early and stay late and so too should a good leader. I look to true leaders as people who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and do the job with those who follow them. I have worked for those who prefer to assign tasks and then walk away and worked with those who work side by side with you…I defer to David Allen’s “Get Things Done” and it just work better when you work as a Team!
So defining leadership is not a simple 10 word or less statement. The Free Dictionary defines a Leader as “1. One that leads or guides” but I truly believe that this is far to simple…so I turn to another online resource Wikipedia and look to their foundation of the Theory of Leadership:
Leadership is “organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal”. The leader may or may not have any formal authority. Students of leadership have produced theories involving traits, situational interaction, function, behavior, power, vision and values, charisma, and intelligence, among others.
This fits…a Leader does not need to be defined as such and their actions are what makes them stand out…will you choose to Lead or to Follow this week?
Chris J Powell