By Eric Charles, MA., PhD-c
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“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” ~John Quincy Adams
Whether we are trying to lead a country or a household, we must remember it is both a privilege and a challenge to be given an opportunity to lead. Leaders are not born, but molded by the waves of life. Daily life truly is the best classroom and we must treat every obstacle as an opportunity to hone the skill of leading not only ourselves, but others too.
Here are 5 qualities necessary to be a good leader:
“Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” ~ Aristotle
One of the most important traits a good leader must have is courage. One must possess courage to accept the position as well as the responsibility that comes with it. Leadership is not easy. There are both positive and negative rewards. As a leader, a person will receive praise, criticism and even ridicule. It requires courage to make and stand by difficult and often unpopular decisions. A leader must have the courage to step up and initiate the course of action without wavering. The position of leadership can be rewarding but also extremely stressful. A perfect example of the toll the responsibility of leadership on a person is the before and after photographs of individuals who have assumed the presidency of the USA. The “after” photo always seems to show a stress-taxed person who has been drained of energy.
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” ~Winston Churchill
A wise man once said, we have 2 ears and one mouth, so we should be listening more and talking less. If we are always talking and interrupting people when they speak we are missing out on valuable opinions and feedback from the people we intend to lead. Pay close attention to what is being said. Listening is important to create an air of mutual trust with your team. Repeat back to them what you hear to make certain you are understanding them clearly. It is not uncommon to hear what we want to hear and miss what was actually being communicated. Stop editing what you hear!
“Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” ~Plato
One only needs to listen to a toddler practicing speech to know that talking is different from communicating. To communicate effectively, speak in a calm manner and present your points in a linear manner. State one point at a time. Explain each point thoroughly. Try not to jump from point to point to avoid confusing your audience. If they do not understand what you are saying you will have a difficult time getting anyone to follow you. Keep your words simple and to the point, there is no need to use pretentious or negative language.
4. Inspire and motivate
“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” ~John F. Kennedy
To be a good leader we must be able to inspire and motivate others. We can inspire and motivate others by being exemplary. It is important that a person is fully aware of how they are being perceived. This is different from how a person sees themselves. If we are expecting loyalty from others but are perceived as disloyal then we will have a difficult time inspiring loyalty from others. In the home setting if a person expects their children to be truthful and forthright then as a parental figure they must display those behaviors. One cannot expect a child to tell the truth when they are seeing the parental leader figure repeatedly lie to them. In order to motivate a person one must be able to establish a clear goal. This uniting goal should be ambitious and attainable. By having a clear and reachable goal your team will want to follow you. If the goal is outlandish and out of reach, no one will bother listening. For example, if your message is that hard work leads to good results then set performance goals for all and reward those who reach the goals.
“Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” ~Tony Robbins
A good leader will not be afraid to be challenged. One must have an open mind and be flexible to new ideas that are different from their own. Perhaps a person has a goal to increase yearly sales and the implemented approach is not working. An effective leader will be courageous enough to admit their approach is wrong and consider new ideas from others for meeting the goal. When leading, we must have the flexibility of a rubber band and be able to adapt to the ever changing needs of the group. We must be able to break away from the norm and away from “the business as usual” routine and try something new and innovative. Apple did not come to represent more than a fruit by playing it safe!
I would love to hear your thoughts on what makes an effective leader. What does a great leader look like in your household, your workplace or anywhere else in your life?
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All the best,
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