Being a leader is a choice. You can be an out-in-front leader or a behind-the-scenes leader.
Leadership is more about getting yourself to take action. You’re mistaken if you think leadership is about controlling or dominating team members and others. Here is a small list of leadership habits that effective leaders share in common:
1. Have a vision for the future.
Good leaders have a vision, a purpose, and goals to achieve. They are not wondering which direction to head because they have established a direction in which to go. Leaders have a written blueprint to follow, too. Great leaders also know how to articulate their vision to those that choose to be on their team. Helen Keller nailed it by sharing, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but has no vision.”
2. Practice the art of constant self-improvement.
A hallmark of leadership is continuously upgrading your skill set. A leader that is not learning is a leader that will fall behind. Listen to leadership podcasts. Follow extraordinary leaders on social media and mirror their leadership style. What skill do you need to improve on or strengthen your leadership skills? If you have not asked this question, your leadership might slowly deteriorate.
3. Think in terms of opportunity.
Henry Ford articulated, “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Too many people are conquered by perceived negative experiences. But there is no such thing as a bad experience. Every experience we’ve had serves us for the betterment of our lives and well-being. People such as Oprah Winfrey, who were abused and grew up in pretty scary environments, could use their so-called “awful experiences” to grow and excel. Often the adversities in our life are disguised as terrible misfortunes when they are our most significant opportunities in hindsight. Influential leaders search for the good in seemingly negative experiences.
4. Establish a relationship with a mentor.
Leaders know they don’t have all the answers. We must seek help from successful leaders since we can learn from their experiences. You can accelerate your progress and avoid possible pitfalls to your eventual success. After you find a credible mentor, consult with your mentor on a regular basis. Make sure to report your activities and success to your mentor. Remember that your mentor will continue to help you if you respect their time and knowledge and consistently progress toward your goals.
“Being an example is not a way of influencing others, it is the only way.”
5. Be a mentor to others.
Yes, it would help if you had a mentor. Yes, it would be best if you were a mentor. Establishing yourself in an effective leadership role means you are willing to help others become leaders too. How can you coach, mentor, and train those on your team to improve their leadership? Don’t forget the value of a great networking group, and make sure to keep your network growing. Business and mentorship thrive in a place of like-minded individuals. LinkedIn is a great place to find like-minded business professionals in your field. The late Sam Walton knew this by saying, “Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. Professional relationship-building will enhance your leadership development. A good practice is to surround yourself with the people you aspire to become. You may be surprised that you are already surrounded by people aspiring to become just like you.
6. Make tough decisions.
Leaders are often the ones that can move forward with making tough decisions that others are afraid to make. After all, to lead, you must ascertain a high level of emotional intelligence. Our decisions affect every aspect of life. Our decisions also affect everyone else in our life, too. Our kids, our coworkers, our friends—everyone! Making tough decisions is one of the most important things you can do. Disappointing people may feel like hard work, and you may not make friends with everyone during those moments, but in the end, it will pay off. You might have to discontinue a product or have to eject/sever a relationship with someone on your team. It is imperative to keep your vision set for the big picture. These tough times will build trust amongst your team members and ultimately improve everyone’s work environment.
7. Make integrity a cornerstone.
Integrity is the quality of being whole or undivided. Quality buildings, space rockets, boats, and cars are known to have structural integrity. Great computer software programs are known to have data integrity. So, when we live a life of human integrity, we create confidence, credibility, active listening, dependability, and trust—not only with others but with ourselves. Integrity is always doing the right thing on a daily basis, even when no one is looking. Integrity is when our actions are congruent with our values. Good friends of integrity are honor, truth, reliability, wholesomeness, and honesty. Integrity is following through on what you say you will do and doing it right.
8. Share your enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm is the fuel that ignites your soul and illuminates the lives of others. Throw a bucket of cold water on enthusiasm, and it will turn to vapor before reaching its fire. People want to be associated with enthusiastic people because enthusiasm truly is contagious. It creates an energy and excitement that dissolves adversity and brightens everyday life. Please don’t be shy about it. Share your good habits and ideas with those around you; enthusiasm is contagious and will cultivate an environment of trust and respect. You will become a comfort zone for those around you. Share the energy of successful leadership freely. German philosopher and historian Johann Friedrich Schiller has a super perspective saying, “Enthusiasm is that kindling spark which marks the difference between the leaders in every activity and the laggards who put in just enough to get by.” Successful business leaders kindle enthusiasm and inspire others to “buy in” to the culture of an energetic work environment.
9. Stand up and speak up.
Have you ever been afraid to express your opinion? Have you ever believed your opinion would fall on deaf ears, that your opinion or ideas were not important enough? Decision-making isn’t for the faint of heart. Good leadership begins with confidence. Team-building can only be successful when everyone is on the same page and focused on the same goal. Keeping silent with a great solution is the opposite of practicing strong leadership principles. What fearful words or phrases are you saying to yourself about your opinions’ validity? We can turn our fears into confidence if we choose. Choose to stand up for what you believe in! Don’t let other opinions squelch your vision, dreams, and goals. Follow what Walt Disney said and lived by, “When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionably.”
The art of delegating enables you to expand the number of tasks you can complete in a day and allows others to learn and experience ownership in a project. The best leaders, entrepreneurs, and achievers surround themselves with competent people to whom they can assign projects and tasks. After all, the business owner should never be wearing every hat in the company. Stretching yourself too thin will lead to burnout and the dissolution of your dream. It would be best if you cultivated a leadership style that inspires every team member to do their best and for everyone to be on board for the betterment of the entire company—plan for your next day. Don’t just wing it. That will lead to frustration. Practice these three key ingredients to effective delegation: Firstly, make sure your instructions and desired results are clear. Secondly, give the person to whom you delegate the freedom and authority to complete the task. Lastly, make sure you don’t get the same project delegated back to you through your attitude of: “it’s easier to do it myself?” Keep in mind that alone you are one person and that your entire team’s collaboration is your company’s true strength. Team building workshops are an excellent opportunity to strengthen this area of your business.
These are just a few ways to strengthen your leadership. Being a leader is a choice. Choose to practice a few of these habits for success to enhance your leadership.
Best of success to you!