How To Be Successful In Life – Leadership Skills
Have you ever admired anyone for something they’ve done? Really admired them? If you have, what you have probably admired about them is their commitment. That commitment is probably what made them such great leaders. To have that, you have to really believe in what it is you are trying to lead on. A belief that you are doing the right thing and that you are approaching it in the right way will help to maintain your motivation and it will make it easier for you to overcome challenges. You will be inspired and so you will inspire others.
So how to be different from all other leaders – and how to be the best leader you can be – is to be yourself. Be true to what you believe. That way, if you really believe you are doing the right thing, you will be able to explain your decisions and justify them to other people. There will be real substance behind the way you behave and the things you say as you try to lead a group of people.
Think about it from the point of view of a follower for a moment. How are people motivated? ‘Because I told you to do it’ doesn’t get a person motivated for very long, and it doesn’t inspire them to put in the maximum effort that they could. Thus, the whole team suffers with an autocratic style of management that is probably most common today.
But if you can show your team that you truly believe you are doing the right thing, they will buy into this vision with you. Your aim becomes their aim and you all work harder to achieve it. The project succeeds.
Successful leadership is founded on five internal strengths that good leaders have:
Vision – you have to know what it is you want to achieve. Having that end goal in sight is the only way to envisage the journey you need to take to get you there. A vision helps you act with purpose and your team will be able to see why they are doing something. That makes them more willing to act.
Self-belief – it’s fine to ask for help, even from your team members, but at the bottom of it all, you have to believe that you are right to embark upon this particular project. If you don’t, you will act hesitantly and spread doubt and fear amongst your followers. One by one they will fall away in order to save themselves because they won’t believe they can achieve the project or that it is a worthwhile project to even try if their leader doesn’t.
Results focus – you like to know why you are doing something, so will your team. So keeping the aim in mind at all times is important. But also, you need regular boosts along the way. Your team ned to know they are moving in the right direction, so make a point of letting them see results as you go along. Knowing something is working out is a great confidence boost. It will re-double the team’s efforts.
Courage – nobody said that being a leader was easy. It isn’t. If it were, *everyone* would want to do it – and they don’t! Sometimes being a leader means making difficult decisions and having the courage to start off in a different direction that hasn’t been tried before. Good leaders are brave enough to do that and they also have the empathy for their team and the communication skills to communicate this change of direction to the team.
Integrity – this characteristic of a good leader is linked to the previous one. Have the integrity to say to your team when something is not working out. The team will think better of you because they will feel trusted and they will work with you to overcome difficulties.
These are the five most important things you must have as a leader – and you should develop them all I your own unique way. Anyone can lead on a particular project or venture if they have the above qualities in regard to the particular project they are trying to lead on. Charisma only counts because it helps to reinforce the leader’s ability to generate support for their vision. If it’s not the right vision or you as the potential leader don’t believe they have the right way to approach it, the team will see right through you as a phoney and they won’t follow you anywhere.
So be honest with yourself and if you seriously intend to lead a team of people towards a successful accomlishment of a goal, develop your vision, self-belief, courage and integrity and focus on the results yo want to achieve. Your team will understand you and respect you more for it and they will see that you are the right person to follow.
Leadership can be explored as a social process – something that happens between people. It is not so much what leaders do, as something that arises out of social relationships. As such it does not depend on one person, but on how people act together to make sense of the situations that face them.
There are some very practical reasons for encouraging people to own the problems facing them. For example, where the problem is non-routine and needs an unusual response, it is important to have the right information. Involving those with a stake in the situation – especially those at the sharp end – gives a chance for insights to emerge.
Further, the more people take on an issue or problem as theirs, and involve themselves in thinking through responses, the more likely they are to act and to carry things through. They have an investment in making things happen. It is their solution, not somebody else’s. In a lot of situations we may simply comply with what our manager, parent or friend tells us to do. It saves us thinking. More importantly it allows us to blame them if things go wrong. Sometimes we just ‘buy-in’ to a suggestion – we can see the sense of it, but don’t commit to it. As a result, we are less likely to stick with it when the going gets tough.
We can also still blame the suggestion-maker in some way – ‘I wish I’d never listened to you’. When we own a problem it becomes our responsibility. If things go wrong when trying to find a solution, we cannot blame others. For these reasons alone we may be very resistant to shouldering responsibility.
We may also be frightened and lost. Sometimes the issue facing us is so complex or of such a scale that we don’t know where to start. We may be worried about getting things wrong, of not understanding what the issues are, or adding to conflict. Faced by a crisis or an apparently insoluble problem, we may look for strong leadership.
It may be through anxiety, hostility or helplessness (to name just a few emotions) that we are ready to turn to those who seem to have an answer. There is a triple danger here. First, these powerful emotions may well push us to project all sorts of capacities onto the ‘leader’ that she or he does not possess. Because they talk a good talk, or look the part, we may want to believe that they know what they are doing and have our interests at heart. Second, the desire to rid ourselves of uncertainties and worries can lead us to turn away from our responsibilities. It is so much easier if someone else can take on the worries. Third, we can overlook the extent to which we contribute to the situation. It may be our actions, or our opinions that are helping to make the crisis.
The issue here is how we contain our distress enough to get over any initial hurdles. We need a breathing space. With friends, families and work colleagues we often turn to ‘a safe pair of hands’ to achieve this. Safety here is less about being told what to do, as feeling that we have some sort of structure supporting or maintaining us. We need a holding environment in which our attentions are focused and we can begin to work on the problem (Heifetz 1993).
Within a team, for example, there may well be someone who is able to say something like, ‘I don’t have the answers, but if we take things bit by bit, we may find a way through’. This is a classic way of holding the situation. Actions such as breaking things into smaller pieces and trying to slow the pace down a little help us to put our brains into gear and to put panic to one side.
We may also try to avoid taking responsibility for things because we are lazy or want others to do things for us. After all, if we own a problem then we will have to act at some point. Why bother exerting ourselves if we can sit back and let someone else take the strain? This takes us straight into the realm of ethical questions. Is it fair that someone should take a ride on the back of others? Is it right to benefit from belonging to a group, teams or organization without making the fullest contribution we can?
To your success,
Andy Shaw – A Bug Free Mind