So, You Want to be a Leader?

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Aug 13, 2012 in , , | No Comments

There are several important qualities needed to be a good leader.

Do you have what it takes?

Let’s face it, we need good leaders! Whether in politics or business, it’s beneficial to all that leaders can be trusted to do their jobs well. Beyond that, employers look for candidates who demonstrate good leadership ability in the workplace.

According to research, most are “made”, meaning they have learned how to become a leader. You may have the ability to become a leader. But, what important ingredients are required? And what sets one leader apart from another–what makes a great leader?

Research of Leaders

In Psychology Today, Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., professor of leadership and organizational psychology, found in research that leaders are “mostly made”. The final tally is: 1/3 are born, while 2/3 are made leaders. Considering the research findings, a large number of students and grads have the ability to become leaders of the future.

Dr. Riggio also discovered many leaders are extroverts. However, that doesn’t preclude introverts from being in leadership. By adopting key ingredients in leadership development, introverts may compete with extroverts for leadership roles.

Recent World Events

Groundbreaking overthrows of political leaders, and their regimes, in a handful of countries are taking place. The citizens of these particular countries are voicing their anger at leaders in powerful ways, using technology to assist them in organizing protests.

All political leaders have two basic choices, either to do well by serving their people, or to do harm by serving only themselves.

We’ve seen in the United States examples of very poor business leadership in the last few years. From Wall Street to Enron, to the mortgage lending industry, greed and mismanagement seemed commonplace. Innocent people took the brunt of the fallout from bad decision making on the part of those in leadership.

Whether in politics or business, history has shown us that leaders who abuse their power are not tolerated.

Ingredients of a Good Leader

Dr. John C. Maxwell, a speaker, author and founder of EQUIP, who communicates his principles to Fortune 500 companies, international marketing organizations and professional sports and church groups worldwide, states in his article, Growing as a Leader: Five Must-Have Ingredients, what he feels is necessary for leadership.

Dr. Maxwell believes leaders are “grown” (made) and unless the right attitudes and actions are cultivated, an aspiring leader will fail rather than grow. He lists what he believes are five basic qualities essential for personal growth in leadership development, which I have condensed below:

1) Teachability-humility is a starting point for personal growth, you must be able to want to improve. Maintaining your teachability is essential and becomes difficult the more success you obtain. Always be willing to learn.

2) Sacrifice-giving up old familiar patterns, unrewarding work, outdated values, or unsatisfying business relationships requires sacrifice. It requires taking an honest look at your life.

3) Security-in order to be a life-long learner, you must have the ability to admit when you “don’t know”. Hard as that may be to admit at times, if it’s the truth, in the long run you’ll gain by being honest. People want honesty, authenticity and courage in a leader, someone who won’t give up until a problem is solved.

4) Listening-when you have the ability to ask questions, listen and learn from someone successful, borrowing from their experiences, you’ll be able to avoid their mistakes. Ask for feedback, often, don’t be a victim of your own blind spots.

5) Application-lessons learned must be put into practice, allowing for insights to mature into understanding. Use it so you won’t lose it.

When a leader has an open mind, compassion for those around him/her, and has the willingness to change what requires changing, that’s the mark of someone destined to go beyond being a good leader–to a great leader. Erwin G. Hall said, “An open mind is the beginning of self-discovery and growth. We can’t learn anything new until we can admit that we don’t already know everything.”

Your Leadership Development

For just a moment, ask yourself if you have what it takes to become a great leader. Can you apply Dr. Maxwell’s five ingredients to your leadership development? What are your goals as a leader, do you only seek monetary benefits and advancement? Or will you adopt integrity, compassion, and open-mindedness into your leadership? Will you make an effort to be a life-long learner? And when the chips are down, do you have what it takes to accept (and admit) mistakes you’ve made, taking the high road to rectify the situation?

Based on your answers, do you have what it takes to become a great leader?


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