by Lynn Wittenburg – September 2013
People just starting to climb the ladder in this business often ask: How do I become a leader? I do not have ALL the answers, but here are six tips that will help.
1. Learn to follow
Say what? I asked you to tell me how to be a leader and you say to learn to follow? Yep, that’s right. You can’t lead until you know how to follow. And the best leaders are constantly following. Trust me, you don’t have all the answers. And solutions can come from anywhere in the ranks or from outside sources such as books, mentors, etc.
He who has never learned to obey can not be a good commander – Aristotle
There are 3 essentials to leadership: humility, clarity & courage – Fuchan Yuan
2. Be a part of the solution (not the problem)
Trust me, there will be plenty of your co-workers complaining about all the problems with whatever organization you happen to work for. An easy way to set yourself apart is to think of solutions rather than join in the bickering. First, your superiors will notice, but more importantly, it’s just a better way to live life. Don’t get caught up in the negativity. Have a vision & problem solve.
Where there is no vision, the people perish – Proverbs 29:18
3. Lead by example
People do not want to be told what to do. They want to be shown. It’s OK to get in the trenches.
Not the cry, but the flight of a wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow – Chinese Proverb
4. Surround yourself with the best
Don’t micromanage. It’s OK to hire people smarter than you. For me to be the best, I want to hire the best. There will be many things my people can do better than I can and that’s great. Give people rope. There are other solutions than just the one in your head.
The best executive is the one who has enough sense to pick good men to do what he wants, and the self restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it – Theodore Roosevelt
Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity – General George Patton
5. Stand up for what matters
Pick your battles. This is probably the hardest thing to learn. When I was younger, I battled for everything. I thought it had to be my way or it would be wrong. The key to leadership is fighting for the important stuff, not every stuff.
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock – Thomas Jefferson
6. Believe in your vision & act
One of my favorite sayings from Mark Twain is “No one told them it was impossible, so they did it.”
There are so many naysayers in our world and everyday life. People will tell you your plan can’t get done. They will point out all the reasons why you will fail. And this is where you can set yourself apart as a leader. Believe in your plan. But, most importantly, ACT on it. And allow others to act. As a leader, I truly believe half of my job is to just say YES.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has – Margaret Mead
Picture courtesy of ExpoundInteractive.