Great leaders are very important in life – they show you how things are done the right way, they encourage you to succeed, they motivate you to be better every day, and they teach you how to learn from your mistakes. Unfortunately, those kinds of leaders are not always easy to find, so instead of spending your time looking for them, make it your New Year’s resolution to become the kind of leader you would wish to have. If you need a few guidelines to help you get started, here’s what it takes to be such a leader.
First things first, you need to decide what kind of leader you want to be, besides just “good”. How will you reward your employees, or handle their failures? How will you turn their mistakes into teaching opportunities? What sort of approach will you take at your workplace in order to be perceived as a leader? Imagine different situations that you are likely to encounter, and think about how you’d handle them.
This part also requires you to be honest with yourself. Besides knowing where you want to be in 5-10 years, you also need to know where you are now. For example, you might have some personality traits you need to work on, like losing your temper too easily, or not standing up for yourself when you should. Just don’t get discouraged if it seems like it will take forever to reach your goals – good things take time, and becoming a great leader is a long process filled with all kinds of difficult obstacles and challenges, which is why it’s important to be passionate about your goal and never give up.
Maintain your health
When you picture a good leader in their office, you surely don’t see somebody who is constantly tired, exhausted, sickly, or easily irritated. In order to be at your best at all times, you need to stay healthy –both physically and emotionally. Thus, eat healthy food that will give you energy, don’t skip meals and get enough rest at night. Try to do some exercise at least a couple of times a week – go for a walk in the park, visit the gym, or find a sport that you enjoy and turn it into a healthy hobby. Speaking of hobbies, they can also help you relax and clear your mind, so find time for reading, meditating, painting, or simply listening to good music. Leadership can be stressful, so it’s important to unwind from time to time.
Think about education
Getting the right education is essential – you won’t be able to focus on improving yourself if nothing during your college years has prepared you for leadership, or if you are constantly worrying about paying off your student loans. Thus, think in advance, and do your research on the best ROI colleges, so you can choose the one that fits your needs best. Education is not all about college though – before you become a leader, you need to actually learn how to be one. Ask around if there are any leadership seminars, team-building activities, management classes, whatever you think would benefit you. It’s never too early to start learning the ropes.
One of the best ways to make sure you don’t stray off the path to becoming a leader is to plan things ahead. Think about your short-term and long-term goals, resources, and problems that still need to be solved, and write them down on a white a3 paper. Next, hang that paper on the wall above your work desk, next to your mirror, or anywhere else where you’re likely to see it every day. It will motivate you by reminding you how far you’ve come – and how much further you still need to go. Plus, as you pass by that piece of paper every day, you’ll probably come up with some additional ideas and ways of accomplishing your goals – and you’ll be able to write them down and analyze them in relation to everything else you’ve written down before.
Motivate people around you
Motivating people is something good leaders do best – but how do they do it? First, don’t be too formal. Nobody wants to be treated like they are just a number, so acknowledge people’s individuality and appeal to their emotions by showing yours – praise their accomplishments, show excitement about that new project, and listen to them if they have a problem. Be openly proud of your employees and colleagues, and you will create a sense of belonging, which is a very strong motivator in any environment. Second, instead of telling people how to do something, support them and encourage them to find the solution on their own. This way, they will start thinking about what can and should be done, instead of worrying about what they shouldn’t do. Plus, they will feel much more confident in their own abilities if they manage to successfully complete the tasks on their own.
Finally, if you are in the position of power, make sure your employees are happy – ask them about their needs, goals, wishes, etc., and do your best to change what you can in order to make their workplace feel like more like another home than an office.
Don’t be (just) a boss
There is a difference between being a boss and being a leader, and the key to great leadership is not authority but influence. In other words, don’t just order people what to do and walk around like you own the place (even if you do) since it’s not exactly going to make you very popular. Instead, lead by example and show people how to achieve the wanted results. We all know that actions speak louder than words, so by proving that you’re not all just talk and by making an effort to connect with your coworkers, you will inspire them to trust you and follow your lead.
Another way in which leaders motivate people to follow them is by having a clear vision that people can identify with. If you know what you want to accomplish and have a purpose and cause worth fighting for, they will support you.
Keep improving yourself
No matter how good of a leader you consider yourself to be, the best leaders know that there is always room for improvement. Don’t ever stop working on yourself and learning from not just your own experience but that of other good leaders out there as well. You can always attend a couple of leadership seminars, watch a few leadership-related YouTube videos, do some research on useful leadership methods, etc. It can do wonders for your leadership skills and consequently, the skills of those whom you coach as well. Plus, by admitting that you’re not perfect and showing that you are doing your best to invest in yourself every day, you will motivate your workers to do the same.
Being a true leader is a challenge worth working for, as such leaders can change the world. Therefore, choose to improve your leadership skills, never stop working on yourself, and you are guaranteed to make a difference by being the kind of leader everybody wishes to have.
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