The current presidential race got me thinking about what truly makes a strong, powerful and trusted leader in the world. For the purposes of this blog, let’s leave opinionating about the candidates’ abilities at the moment up to CNN, FOX NEWS, and Saturday Night Live. Instead, let’s focus on your leadership abilities. On how you become a leader in your own life, at work, at home, in the classroom, and in your community.
Why? Because great leaders inspire change.
I decided to do a little research and find out what people think great leadership consists of. I discovered that not everyone has the same list; and, in fact, I’ve been getting a little flack for how “intense” and demanding my definition is. However, everything special or extraordinary I ever produced in my life came on the heels of a dare or overcoming some sort of fear, so what the heck, I dare you to define leadership as boldly as I do, and then go for it.
WHAT MAKES A GREAT LEADER?
- You have a defined purpose. Your vision is locked into your gut. You know who you are and what you want to say.
- You walk your talk.
- You talk and talk. You want to be heard and followed.
- Your mission is for a higher purpose.
- You set an example. In other words, you put yourself through something to turn your ordinary into extraordinary, publicly.
- You are transparent. You don’t hide things. People are allowed to know you, warts and all.
- You master your own mind and keep excuses at bay.
So, are you living your true mission? Do you know people like this? Sure, it’s a stringent, impressive and not easily achievable list. Except, if you’ve got any interest like me in its pursuit, I’ve put together a few pointers below for you to ponder as you step up and into being a powerful, purposeful leader in your life.
BUTCHER YOUR CHICKEN
Being a leader means people will look at you, watch you more closely and yes, judge you. There is no way around it. Many of us are fearful of being judged and thus manage what we say. You cannot be a chicken and a great leader at the same time. If you are afraid of being judged or worried about what people think about you, you will never be proud and confident in your life.
Do note, if you are judging your bosses, spiritual leaders or yoga teachers, it probably means you want their job and think you could do it better, but are too chicken to admit it. Because we know how strongly we judge, we fear being judged by others. Know you are going to be judged and busy yourself with setting standards that YOU want to meet and then meeting them.
Get a feel for how The Handel Method® could benefit you.
OWN YOUR CRAP
Now, we all make mistakes and have negative qualities. It’s hard for anyone to admit when he or she is wrong, but it’s especially hard when you are the leader and you have to admit it up and down the pecking order, or in front of everyone. At our company, we make telling on ourselves a common practice, but it’s still hot-in-the-face-worthy work. And, we recognize how unique this culture is to be so inviting and forgiving. In most communities, admitting you’ve been a jerk is a big risk and pride prevents you from doing it, even if it would be the quickest way to resolve conflict, upgrade a system and/or improve your ability to lead.
A while back, I told a coworker that I thought I could do something better than she could. It turned out I was wrong. Now, as long as I didn’t own that “truth” or tell anyone, I still believed I could do it better. I’m sure you can imagine how much I did not want to admit out loud that disgusting judgment. But I did!
Whenever I own my crap or cop to something, as soon as I say it out loud, its validity is now in question and communication, leadership and affinity can be restored. Once it’s vocalized, it’s as if something about the words meeting with the air changes it (like iron oxidizing into rust) and it becomes absurd. We can all get back to work and I can go back to leading, not from on a high horse and being above others, but from a place grounded in my own integrity. I know I’m not perfect, and as a leader, I made the promise to always look for my weaknesses and mistakes and own them.
Telling the truth and owning what doesn’t work about you, keeps you trustworthy and safe to those around you.
EVEN THE LONE RANGER HAD TONTO
Great leaders are not controlling or ‘Lone Rangers.”They know when to ask for help and delegate. They are team players who let others rise up around them. I can be a baby at this level of leadership. I like trying to do everything myself, but it never works out for me. I end up getting overwhelmed, start dropping balls and people stop trusting me. I now have promises about delegating tasks to employees and communicating when I need help. This brings the team closer together and has people trust me more.
If you’re interested in becoming a leader in your life or community, join HG Chairwoman Lauren Handel Zander and author of Art of Attention, Elena Brower on August 11th at Soho house NYC, for the 2-hour event, Living Your Mission. Or join Lauren Handel Zander for a 1-hour Tele-talk also titled, Living Your Mission on August 16th.