The number of books written, materials distributed and actual ink used to outline, describe and otherwise inspire “leadership” over the past 100 years would likely eclipse the number of people who have actually embraced the role over the course of human history.
Is the role of leader that difficult to practice in the world?
Owning your own business certainly does not, by default, make you a “leader” or capable of leading others. Admittedly, nor does writing about it.
Perhaps what initiates the spark is first, identifying the need for leadership in a given context and second, a willingness to fully embrace (not just accept) the responsibility.
In the fitness industry, for example, we have the technicians who are superb at what they do. They evaluate, assess and administer a protocol. Their results are measurable, linear and often extraordinary. There are also the far less common and far more influential leaders. And although their “measurable results” may or may not exceed those of the technicians, they have made it their responsibility and their passion to inspire an even more valuable result. They empower people to believe in themselves and to find a way to serve and inspire others along the way.
Here is how they do it:
1. Real Leaders put people first
These leaders take their ego out of the equation and seek to serve those they lead. For them, it isn’t about “making” anyone do anything. It’s about a collaborative team effort led principally by a collective goal and the other persons’ driving desire for self improvement.**
2. Real Leaders are reluctant to take credit…
…even when it might be due, and they always share the burden of responsibility. These leaders know that taking credit for the accomplishments of others —regardless of their role in that accomplishment— would be incongruent with their desire to serve others in finding their hidden strengths. They frequently provide productive feedback and a simple pat on the back for even the smallest of achievements, while at the same time sharing the responsibility when milestones are not met.
3. Real Leaders come from a true place of moral authority…
…and individual strength of character. They would never be caught acting in a way that could be deemed immoral, unethical or incongruent with what they teach and profess to believe… because they simply don’t do it. Rather than DEMANDING extraordinary results, they INSPIRE those results through their own actions and code of conduct.
4. Real Leaders are skilled communicators
They know the critical importance of being able to deliver their message and even help others articulate theirs. They also recognize that words are only a small part of their ability to communicate that message and that they must be congruent and honest with that message, as well as their style of conveying it, for it to translate into a rapport-building leadership skill.
5. Real Leaders are methodical in their approach
They recognize the importance of systems in the achievement of consistent and reproducible results. Winging it might be fun and challenging but it’s not their style. They have enough foresight to look ahead and make sure the appropriate strategy and systems are put into place for future success.
When it comes to taking the helm of your venture, you get to decide whether to be a great technician who gets the job done or the leader guiding your organization and people to greatness… recognizing that choice may be at the very heart of the role itself.
**Check out The Seven Pillars of Servant Leadership, by James Sipe and Don Frick for more.