Not everyone placed or are currently acting in a leadership role is a true leader.
What do I mean by that?
Have you ever worked under a boss or a leader who seemed to stifle your passion? That even if their intentions seemed to be for the good, you just couldn’t find yourself to agree with them, much less follow their lead?
Well that may not be your fault at all. For there may never have been a lead for you to follow.
There are many articles already out there talking about the different types of leadership styles. Laissez-faire, autocratic, participative, transactional, and the like. About how some are better received than others in certain situations.
If you are in a leadership position yourself, by now you may have asked yourself about your leadership style. Whether or not you can are identified as a true leader in the eyes of others.
Instead of looking at how you can lead (something that can easily be adjusted), we will be examining the core essence of what it takes to be a true leader. Doing so will help you gain insight into leadership, unveiling your inner qualities, and helping you to form a stronger team overall.
So what missing in some people when it comes to leadership?
The Golden Series has been around one central concept. That purpose, your ‘why’ informs your ‘how' (your method), which in turn informs your ‘what’ (the thing that you do). That by following this practice and train of thought, you can attract a solid following of people who believe in what you believe.
The Ideal Team
We’ve all experienced this in one way or another. Working with other people and just not jiving, and not because they’re not good people but simply due to the lack of chemistry.
While the individual impacts the team, what matters even more is the leader for they are the ones who control the nature of the team.
An ideal team starts with a true leader.
A team is only as good as the glue that gels them together, and in any setting , the gel is the vision which is something that is communicated by the leader.
After that, it boils down to the discipline and the regulation of a healthy functioning team. Both of which falls under the responsibility of the leader.
Under a true leader, you’ll find that the team is strong in the things that they do. People who are willing to push their limits and loyal without doubt for they are there for the team and not personal gains.
That is not to say that they’ll overcome every obstacle, but what you can count on is a group of people who are willing to strive for their goal even after experiencing the taste of failure.
A great team is one that works collaboratively towards a common purpose. For this to happen, it is important that the leader first has a clear vision of where it is they want to be and what it is that they would like to achieve.
By having vision, you can attract people who are intrinsically motivated to go to the limits with you. People who are there for the cause instead of the money.
A clear vision also helps you to gain a better evaluation of everything. Is the team’s actions aligned with the purpose? Are your actions aligned with the purpose? Are they things that would propel the team forward.
To be a leader, you need to see past the chaos. When everyone else has their heads down in the trenches preparing for battle, it is up to the leader to give them the guidance so they may know how to take action.
Character, or what some may regard as ‘charisma’ is essentially the way one carries themselves.
Don’t worry. Before you start thinking that this is an attempt to transform you into someone you’re not, let me take the initiative to say that this isn’t our intention. Indeed, character is the way one carries themselves, but we are not looking at the personality or demeanor per se.
Character refers to the frame of mind.
By activating certain underlying constructs characteristic of a leader, we can become better in leading despite the stylistic differences.
In many ways, today’s perception of a leader is contaminated by people who hold leadership role but are not true leaders.
How can we tell?
They are people who put their own interest before everything else, that of others and even that of the vision. It is because we stress so little on the concept of a true leader that we end up thinking it’s natural for a leader to exploit.
That when we hear the word ‘leader’ we would associate them with someone who sits at the top of the pyramid above everyone else as others work tirelessly to hold them up.
The illustration above created by Pawel Kuczynski depicts precisely the types of leaders we now often see in the realm of business. People who are willing to risk sacrificing their team in order to drive themselves forward in the industry.
However, a true leader is not someone like that, quite the opposite even.
“Leaders eat last.” - Simon Sinek
True leaders have the ability and character of placing others before themselves. They are humble, leading by example.
Only someone who is willing to stick out their neck for their team can earn the trust and respect of its members. For if you are not willing to do so, then neither will your team be willing to fight for you.
Beyond humility, a leader is someone who is willing to sacrifice their personal interest in order to achieve their vision. Looking at the bigger picture and staying true to their word and belief.
A true leader is fair.
Sometimes, holding themselves under even more scrutiny than that of others. Their actions in turn create trust and their example, a goal for everyone else to aspire towards.
More than just communicating, it is important for a leader to know how to tell a good story.
Leaders are the one’s with the ultimate vision. Not only is having this vision crucial to the team but they also need to be able to put their vision into words. To have a strong grasp of the emotional and mental constructs and provide their team with clarity.
The leader is someone who is able to provide intrinsic motivation. To make the tasks at hand internally rewarding as opposed to being driven by outward rewards, like money or praise.
To do so, you need to properly convey purpose in all that you do. Inciting value into the very thing that you do and demonstrating reason beyond transactional purposes.
The last thing you want is to have people think their jobs are demeaning!
Appealing to your team emotionally is of course important, but as a leader you also need to provide your followers with a firm foundation in which to stand on.
You need a rational ground on which everyone may agree on. A level playing field.
In business, there will be times of great frustration and confusion caused by financial circumstances or the people in general. This is when you as a leader need to provide rational clarity.
To keep a cool head and have good judgement. To discern the honest from the deceitful, giving credit where credit is due.
When all hell breaks loose, you are the one others will look to for peace. The pillar on which everything else lies. By being levelheaded, the leader gives confidence to the team, pushing them forwards even in unfavorable situations.
It Pays to be a Good Leader
Warren Buffett is widely recognized as a great leader. Known for his wit and down-to-earth personality, he is ranked 15th on Forbes list of ‘The World’s Most Important People’.
Unlike others, he makes a point to be clear in his message. With his annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway becoming an event to look forward to, he conveys a concise message which is then relayed to all levels of his company.
While there are people who try to complicate their speech in order to sound more intelligent, Buffett values transparency. Explaining his point in human terms, without trying to sugarcoat the message.
"Either hold a rock concert or a ballet. But don't hold a rock concert and advertise it as a ballet." - Warren Buffett
He is also not afraid to make mistakes and have the humility to admit when he is wrong. By doing so, he is in fact building people’s confidence in him, not otherwise.
As a result of his leadership, he now owns over 60 companies. When you are a great leader who inspires, people will naturally fall in line to follow.
A true leader is someone who is both grounded in facts yet also comfortable taking the risk of being the occasional optimist. Someone who takes pride the the very thing that they do, attracting others like them.
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