- True leaders are able to inspire others toward action rather than resorting to demands.
- Leadership stems from a strong mindset and clear vision, not a job title or other artificial characteristics.
- Being humble, authentic, and compassionate are the ingredients of a great business leader.
For as long as people have been around, leaders have emerged to guide others through projects and inspire them toward action. Countless books, plays, and films have explored the concept of leadership and what it entails. But how does one become a leader? Is it innate or learned? And during these troubled times, what does it mean to be a leader? “Leader” isn’t synonymous with any job title, and it’s not something that naturally happens as you move up in your career.
Being a true leader comes down to your mindset. As the saying goes, you don’t need a title to be a leader. You do, however, need the right attitude and philosophy.
Clarify your vision
Think of your leadership as a journey. Without a roadmap, how can you expect to show others the way? The first step to building your leadership role is to build a strong vision. These are tough times, economically and otherwise, but you shouldn’t confuse vision with prediction. Successful businesses survive because their leader’s vision carries them through — even if the landscape changes.
People with authority may point and shout orders, but true leaders inspire action by demonstrating their willingness to get their hands dirty. If you’re tucked away in your office as other people do the hard work, that’s not very inspiring. A leader is someone who can share their wisdom because they’ve been there, rather than someone who doesn’t “walk the talk.”
The best leaders throughout history have been able to inspire others because they connect with them on a deep level. To do so, one needs to have empathy for those they are leading. And with empathy comes compassion. When your employee or team member makes a mistake, how you respond is the difference between a supervisor who judges them and a leader who empowers them to do better.
Be authentic and honest
You’re only human, and you make mistakes as well. It can feel scary to be vulnerable if you’re in a leadership position, but it’s important to own your missteps. By doing so, you show others that you’re not burdened by pride. You’ll also instill trust in those you lead. Honesty and authenticity go hand in hand, and your team is more likely to be open to change if they see that you yourself can change.
Share your mission
Any marketer will tell you that the “why,” the story, permeates all their efforts. Why should anyone care? What is the story that we’re telling? That’s true for leaders as well. Have you taken the time to communicate your mission to your team? Be open about what makes you tick. That’s the key to inspiring others to follow in your footsteps.
One of the most common complaints in the modern workplace is about micromanagement. The last thing you want is for your team to feel like they can’t do anything right. That means that if you have any perfectionist tendencies, you need to let them go. Your team can sense that. The flip side of this attitude shift is to express your appreciation whenever possible. Show your team that you value them and their work. They’ll be much more likely to put in extra effort to put your vision into action.
Being a leader is much more than having authority or issuing orders. It’s a role that you assume on a team when others need guidance. True leaders clarify and express their vision to inspire others on a shared mission. There’s no need to overexplain or judge your team because they’re already empowered and motivated to work with you. Building yourself up as a leader comes down to your mindset, not your job title. With a great attitude and strong philosophy, you can be a true business leader.