“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Ghandi
A little over two years ago, I started a new job at a company that is a great company to work for. One of the annual traditions is to set annual goals that align with and support company and team goals. The first year I did this, one of the goals I set was to find Leadership Training. I had so many questions. How do you become a leader? What makes someone a great leader? What resources are there?
Since then I have come to realize many things about leadership. First and foremost, it is not nearly as elusive and rare as I had thought. Without much in-depth research, a few general observations I have found based on leaders—both in my life as well as World leaders—are this:
“Seek First To Understand”
Steven Covey said it best, so I might as well not reinvent the wheel here. Leadership cannot be wholly learned from books or leadership training courses. Some of the best lessons I have learned in leadership have come from observing those leading myself and others. Whether it be a manager at work or Nelson Mandela, and whether those examples set by these leaders be positive or negative, there is something to learn from everyone around us.
In the last 2ish years, I have had 5 managers. Two of them have set two completely different examples, one incredibly positive (I didn’t know such great managers existed in this world), and one absolutely horrendous. But I learned from them both. Even the terrible manager served a purpose, he taught me plenty about leadership. And once his purpose was served and I had learned nearly all that I could, life moved on and I got a new manager.
“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.”
― Steven R. Covey
Be Someone You Would Want To Follow
The term “born-leader” is common, yet misleading. No one steps out of the womb a leader, possessing all of the strengths and skills necessary to lead others. We are all human, we all make mistakes. It is those that learn from their mistakes and “fail forward”, always progressing onward and upward, that seem to have a birthright to lead others.
So, keep failing. Keep learning. Keep improving yourself and striving to become the best version of yourself that you can be. If you wouldn’t want to follow you, who else will?
“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Speak Up [Take Advantage of Every Opportunity]
As an introvert with a
slight case of perfectionism, and thus plenty of self-doubt, I am quiet. A lot. I do not speak unless I can improve the silence. However, I often have many things to say that could improve the silence, I simply lack the courage to say them loud enough for the right people to hear me.
While it is important to listen and to understand before speaking, we also cannot forget to speak up. Leaders lead by action and words.
“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson
We Are All Leaders
I finally did make it to a leadership training program, nearly two years after first having set the goal to do so. The program I am currently getting certified for is through my company, called Lead From Within.
“Lead From Within”. Every person at every level of every company has an opportunity to lead. Every spouse, every parent, every child. Every friend, every family member.
“If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”
― Dolly Parton