A title provides a veneer of authority and initially makes it easier to be taken seriously, but rank or position alone can’t transform anyone into a leader. Instead, leadership is about affecting others in a good way. As President John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Many Are Called
Anyone can aspire to become a leader. And in times of upheaval or difficulty (such as during the current pandemic), it’s important that everyone demonstrate as much leadership as possible, regardless of the positions they hold. Your positive energy — in the form of extra effort and confident attitude — can reverberate throughout your corner of AmeriLife Distribution.
Of course, it helps tremendously if you actually want to be a leader. When we see a vacuum of leadership and the necessity for someone to step up, we may be reluctant to act. Here’s why:
- We may prefer to stay in our comfort zone. It’s understandable that someone might say, “I’m getting paid X for doing A, B and C, and I’m happy with that arrangement. If I do A, B and C plus D, I’ll still only get paid X. There’s no incentive to do more.”
The short-sightedness of this attitude is easy to spot. Extra effort typically brings rewards in terms of compensation and prestige. More critically, though, there may be situations in which a failure to act precedes ruinous consequences. Ultimately, selfishness is a game nobody wins.
- We may not feel qualified to take on the responsibility. Absence of formal training, lack of experience or unfamiliarity with the involved parties may prevent action, even though other strengths can more than make up for deficits in qualification.
Being the only one ready and willing to take on a challenge automatically makes you the most qualified person for a job. Simply step forward and resolve to do your best. Treat the enterprise as an adventure of self-discovery as you learn what you’re capable of achieving.
- We may be afraid of making a mistake. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates wrote, “First, do no harm,” and the last thing any of us what to do is make a bad situation worse.
However, consider this: leaders have followers and bad situations usually have component problems. Take responsibility for whatever limited area that you can improve, and encourage others take on the issues they are best suited to solve.
Preparing for Leadership
You can be excited about assuming leadership, but unless others recognize the proper attributes in you, expect resistance. Your ability to rally others to your side at a critical moment will increase if you’ve previously demonstrated:
- A strong work ethic – When others realize that no one works harder than you, they will be much more willing to join you in your efforts.
- A commitment to quality – Leadership is almost always tied into a desire to “win.” If you’ve shown co-workers that it’s important to do your best and that your accomplishments are worthwhile, they will be more readily drawn to your cause.
- Inclusiveness – Solicit the ideas of others and be respectful of their opinions. Be eager to help colleagues but slow to criticize. Show your appreciation for the contributions of others. If you’ve proven yourself to be a good team player, others will be more likely to make you a captain.
- Good communication skills – If you offer directions that are easy to follow, provide answers to questions that are concise and on point, and proactively avoid misunderstandings, co-workers will have no problem listening to you.
- Accountability – Good leaders take responsibility when mistakes are made, and they are quick to share credit when everything goes according to plan. Your past record on these fronts will have a huge impact on how others regard your worthiness to lead.
On a final note: when we think of leaders, we tend to think of heads of state, generals, corporate executives and such. Yet, there are an infinite number of opportunities to be a leader but without the spotlight that comes with some grand position. Realize it’s a commitment to make a positive difference in small, everyday ways that is the best indicator of leadership.
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