Is leadership a quality that innately exists within certain people, or is it learned over time? Many people believe leaders are born with all the abilities they need, but that isn’t the case.
While there are some people who might possess qualities lending themselves well to leadership, such as charisma, true leadership is developmental. Setting out on the leadership journey requires dedication, study, and a deep knowledge of oneself. Intention also has a big role to play.
Where to Start
There are a few common and connected behaviors that will serve you and lead you to success as you travel through your leadership journey. (Please note that these behaviors are also referenced in our book, Would You Work for You — The Quest: Discovering the Leader Within, which is a guide for leaders interested in developing their skills.)
This list provides an entry-level list, allowing you to contemplate which parts of leadership you might have an affinity for and which you need to focus on developing.
Be willing to learn with humility and genuine interest
Some leaders prefer telling people what to do. They assume the relationship between leaders and their team members only works one way—with leaders giving the orders and team members listening and obeying. This is the poorest and least sustainable form of leadership.
We live in a world where kindness is often confused with weakness. Humility is sometimes mistaken for a lack of confidence. But humility should be a vital part of your leadership journey. It indicates a willingness to engage, admit when you’re wrong, and listen to the people around you.
When you lead with humility, it sends the message that you’re aware of the limits of your own knowledge and genuinely values the opinions of others. Genuine interest, expressed with humility, is a catalyst for improved culture, strong relationships, and open communication. People remain on teams when they know their leader listens to them and is invested in their growth and improvement. They do their best work when their leader interacts authentically with them.
“Humility, gentleness, and helpfulness go so much further and open doors you cannot imagine.” — Ann Tran, writer and public speaker
Cultivate openness to new ideas
Successful leaders are not easily threatened. They know that it doesn’t matter where a good idea comes from, or who it comes from. They process all ideas through a set of highly developed core values, and, when appropriate, put those ideas into action and make certain to credit the right person.
Credit is important. As a leader, you should be willing to share power and even sometimes give your power away. Don’t collect power and hold tightly onto it. Instead, facilitate and nurture the growth of the people around you. An effective leader wants people to be powerful, creative, and invested.
Understand the importance of positive, personal relationships
Relationships always come first. In order to achieve your full potential as a leader, you must understand that positive personal relationships are the bedrock of your support and influence. Learning to create and foster these relationships is key to your growth and success.
You cultivate relationships by celebrating with your team members when good things happen. Credit them when they have great ideas or contribute to an amazing outcome. Invest in them by asking questions and listening to the answers. Seek to find common ground. And, don’t take any relationship for granted. If you aren’t directly investing in a particular team member, take the time to make sure someone is. Don’t let anyone feel neglected or isolated, like poor Milton Waddams, the character with the red stapler in Office Space.
Investing in relationships means people will hang in there when things get tough. They stick it out because they believe in you, they believe in the system, and they believe in the organization.
What Meaningful Progress Looks Like
“Leadership is the art of intentional living.” ― Farshad Asl, businessman and author
Practicing these behaviors and incorporating them into each step of your leadership quest allows you to have a real impact on the people you serve. These behaviors are key to building an amazing culture where each team member is inspired to contribute and feels there is genuine value in the work they do.
Learn how to lead yourself and define your actions as a leader in our free eBook, available now.
Author, Speaker, and Change Agent.
Chris leads a dynamic team of passionate change agents who are dedicated to partnering with organizational executives to create cultures that inspire, engage and ignite the best in people. Our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.
Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired Up! team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired Up!, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams, and align operation practices to engage organizations and drive breakthrough results.