“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Leadership, for many, is a gift of god. A leader is one who sets an example for others. A good leadership is judged by the respect it gains but at the same time, a leader also has to go through trying phases to scale the height. A leader who once succeeds in earning respect and inspires others has a much better chance of becoming effective than who is not. Take for example, the prime minister of New Zealand — Jacinda Ardern. About to reach 40, Ardern has come up with positive leadership on several key occasions for his country and it has made her one of the best leaders in the contemporary world.
While leadership is considered a god’s gift, it is not to say that people can’t improve as leaders. A willing mind is capable of achieving anything under the sun. It is just that an aspiring leader has to train himself or herself better in certain aspects to emerge as a revered leader. Some of these aspects are basic while some need practice to make it perfect but overall, taking them in your stride can guarantee that you come out a better figure in leading others.
Here are 10 tips that help you become a better leader:
Leading by example
A leader needs to act as well and not just talk. To inspire those you are leading, you yourself need to first practice what you preach. Be it in terms of punctuality, competence at work or being responsible both professionally and individual, a leader is always looked up to for setting a benchmark. A leader also needs to be humble and like success, takes failure in his/her stride as well. In a nutshell, a leader has to convince his followers through his action that he is serious about what and how he is doing. Those who are capable of doing it by sacrificing factors like ego are destined to finish better as a leader than those who don’t.
A good communicator
A leader must know how to make the best use of his communicating skills. It is not that a leader has to be a master in oratorical skills like Sir Winston Churchill. By having a better grip on the communication, one means a leader should be open to covering an extra mile to reach out to his people/followers and ensure that their voice is also heard. The transparency of words and fluency of a two-way traffic while communicating makes a leader more respected. While speaking with authority, a leader also needs to have patient ears to listen.
This is a must for any aspiring leader. In an utterly unjust world, it is always a noble idea to treat people with empathy. PM Ardern’s reaching out to the victims from a minority community following terror attacks in Christchurch last year is an example to learn from. Empathy not only bridges the gap between people but also earns respect for those who display it in abundance. To be empathetic needs no special qualification. It’s just a few soothing words that can bring a leader unmatched success.
Not ignoring experience(s)
As American writer Isaac Marion once said famously: “Every experience, good or bad, is a priceless collector’s item”. Experience is something that nurtures leaders in us. Man, knowingly or unknowingly learns from his past and those who are smarter to put that knowledge for future referral make the difference. It is just not your own experience that can teach you a lesson in any situation in life. Look up to other people’s stories — good or bad — and analyze them with your own knowledge and experience. You will come to know about a better alternative.
Knowing one’s own limits
This is so very true a lesson that an aspiring leader needs to learn. Every human being has his/her limitations and a leader is no exception. You can have limitations in terms of knowledge about a domain or in terms of physically managing your growing business or even in managing people emotionally. It is always good to understand and analyze them before you force yourself to handle them and land yourself in a spot, hurting your overall reputation as a leader. It is important to set up boundaries and if needed, rein in handy resources to handle those challenges.
Do not ever think that a leader is infallible — mentally or emotionally. On the contrary, a leader works under much more pressure than those around him because on his shoulders lies the prime responsibility of executing things well. It is not a dumb thing to do for a leader to seek help if he/she thinks it is required for the sake of a sound leadership. Having mentors, aides and consultants is always wise because a leader doesn’t have a magic wand for every problem on earth. So keep your own mind fit and sound with help of advisers before you go around to mean business.
A leader’s job is to go for targets and profits no doubt. But more than those, he/she should prize time more — himself and also encourage others to follow the same. Time is money and there should be a top-notch approach in making it as productive as possible. When a team or company knows how to manage time and enhance productivity, then the leader can feel assured that he or she has succeeded in setting up a culture worth appreciating. A leader who values time knows how to win battles without shedding much sweat.
Remaining motivated, consistently
A successful leader needs to have a blend of three key factors — confidence, motivation and consistency. If these three ingredients are in abundant quantity in his or her leadership approach, then success isn’t too far. Elon Musk is a great example of this. Musk’s success lies in some incredible mind power. He is incredibly motivated and never afraid to face failures. The man is consistently in the headlines because he works on keeping his motivation level high which in turn provides him the necessary confidence. Musk frames goals that are big and strives for them through embracing feedback, even if negative. For aspiring leaders, therein lies the secret of high motivation and consistency.
Choosing the right team
As a leader, you have to depend on your resources to achieve the goals. Teamwork is something which is more effective than an individual’s effort. It is very important that you pick the right people by doing enough background research. One wrong choice could put your entire team-harmonizing effort in peril and harm the overall journey towards success.
Take responsibility and forgive yourself
There should be no assumption that leaders do not make mistakes. Because of the high pressure and expectations at work, a leader is bound to make mistakes and it can upset the entire team’s rhythm. But such instances should not break a leader’s resolve. You need to face the mistake and learn from it but do not penalize yourself for that. A wise leader quietly learns the lesson after admitting it and makes a right move next time.
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