Being in a leadership position makes you no more of a leader than sitting in your garage makes you a car. It’s not about where you’re sitting, but what you do while you’re in the seat. A leader, is someone worth following and not everyone in a leadership position is worth following. Ask yourself this question – based on your actions, words and relationships, are you someone people would willingly follow. In conducting this self-assessment, rather than focusing on how you see yourself, it would be more impactful to look through the lens of the people around you. What is it that they see?
There are 5 key qualities that are apparent in authentic leaders which organically results in people wanting to follow. If asked, would those around you find these qualities in you?
- Understand what Leadership truly means. With leadership comes an awesome responsibility. As a leader, you impact the lives of those around you as well as the success or failure of an organization. Few understand this concept of active accountability. A leader is accountable for every decision and doesn’t shy away from that accountability. They own the results, good or bad. Understanding that it’s not all about you, yet all stops with you.
- Recognize that a Leader is not to be served but serves. A servant is defined as someone that is devoted to ensuring the needs of another are taken care of first. A true leader considers when making strategic plans and decisions; that is customers, shareholders, their team, and their employees. There’s a saying that if you are not serving others you will be self-serving and who will follow someone that is perceived as out for themselves.
- Know that they are not always right. A leader knows that he doesn’t know it all and certainly understands that they don’t have all the answers. Instead they are open to and elicit the perspectives, ideas and experiences of others. Recognize that you don’t know it all and find strength by realizing your weaknesses. Great leaders are always learning and surround themselves with the right people to maximize the team. If you are the smartest person on the team, then your team isn’t big enough.
- Develop other leaders. Leaders do not simply want followers, they recognize the need to develop other leaders. When you are only focused on getting the work done rather than developing the people to accomplish the work ironically enough, you will ultimately fail at getting the work done. One person cannot do it all and the day will come when you won’t be there anymore. If you haven’t developed others to lead you’ve failed the organization and those you were entrusted to lead in the first place.
- Are trusted and trusting. In leadership, trusting others and being trusted go hand in hand. When you demonstrate to others that you trust them you are more likely to receive their trust in return. A leader knows how to extend trust with clear expectations and accountability and empowers their employees to address critical issues. When it comes to being trusted, there is no way around earning it. A leader doesn’t just talk about it, they show it. Your words and your actions are the only things that will help you successfully build and maintain trust. When as a leader, you follow through on your commitments and demonstrate that you care, you are on your way to earning the trust of those you are supposed to be leading.
So how do you measure up when you assess yourself in these 5 qualities. More importantly, how would others measure you. To reach your pinnacle of leadership, look outward; conduct a true assessment and adjust your actions as needed.