Being A Leader
I fancy myself to be a student of leadership. I read everything that I can on the subject. I listen to those who have showed success at leading, and as a reminder of the importance of sound leadership, I keep a JFK quote hanging near my desk, "Unless Democracy can produce able leaders, its chances for survival are slight."
Many years ago when I was thrust into a leadership position, the US Army' definition of leadership began: "The art of influencing and directing others..............". I thought that that one word, "art", was so appropriate and it had a profound effect on me. When the Army removed it from its definition I was bothered. I had grown to believe that true leaders, great leaders, those who inspire, those who create a climate in which one opts to be motivated; those who stand out in the crowd, those unique peoples, were true artists.
Often we find people miscast in positions of leadership. They flounder, fail and fall, and in the process they adversely impact the lives of those they were entrusted with to lead, nurture and develop.
The words you can select to define a great leader are many. If you ask ten people to provide three traits of a leader, you are apt to get thirty different words. I offer my top three below.
Loving. If you don't love people, you will never lead them. You may, for a while, capture their attention with your charisma and charm, or control them through your use of threats and fear, or get them to conform, but without commitment. None of those things reflect love, and in time, everyone will find you out, and once discovered that there is no foundation to your role, people will rebel in their own way. You will never see the performance for which they are capable. You will never see the enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile. If you do not love people, your days as a leader will be limited.
Caring. Loving begets caring. People know if you really care. You can't fool them about it. When you care, you take the time to know your people; you know their ambitions, goals, and dreams; you know their families, their hobbies, what inspires them and what irks them. When you care for your people you can quickly discern when "Joan" is unhappy or something is bothering "Richard". When you care, your people care. They will go out of their way for you, and you for them. A caring environment is healthy and exciting. Innovation, creativity and candidness abound. Open, honest and meaningful dialog is second nature. In short, caring leaders create winning teams operating in a safe and wholesome environment.
Developing. When you love people and truly care for them, developing them is a natural byproduct. What do we leave when we leave an organization? A gap? A void? Confusion and disappointment? Or do we leave a well-trained team with people who are capable to replace us and to carry on those positive habits and procedures that sum to continual success. There is nothing more important and noble for a leader to leave as a legacy than people who are capable of, and eager for, continued success and achievement. Developing is giving back and there just is nothing more rewarding in life than giving.
Loving, caring and developing others takes patience and hard work. Distractors abound; but, if you are an artist, a loving, caring leader who takes pride in the awesome responsibility of developing others, your success will be of that intrinsic value that money cannot buy. The true joy, honor and privilege of leading will be your most treasured compensation.
True Growth Takeaway:
Love to lead. Care to care. Develop others.
True Growth Journal Question:
How can I be a better leader?
About the author:
Bob Dare served 28 years in the United States Army. He held every noncommissioned officer leadership position culminating with his last three assignments as Command Sergeant Major for the 25th Infantry Division, United States Army Pacific Command and United States Army Forces Command. Bob is also an executive coach and facilitator for LWM III Consulting.
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