What came first, the chicken or the egg? Do you have to be a leader to influence others or does your influence make you a leader? Early this year I completed a training by Olive International on Leadership and during the first sessions, what stood out for me is that it is easier for a lion to lead sheep than otherwise. My take away from that session was leadership is really ‘lead-a-sheep’. It takes one to know one and great leaders have been great followers, either by example or literally.
Leadership values differ in order of priority and you must chart your own course and cheetah-race to the top. As a leader there is no marked end, only the top and once you conquer a target, the only way to go is higher. As a leader, you must be able to practice what you preach. Some say that leadership is first observed at home and this calls out parents and other custodians not to take lightly their roles and the impacts of the same. Children see what others do and if those in authority are doing it right, the children have a great head-start. Should those in authority set bad or questionable examples, the children grow up thinking that that is the correct way to lead. Sadly, the average think that average is outstanding and allowing a child to accept mediocrity is setting a bar so low, they do not even have to try. Leadership calls for authenticity, grit and facing up to situations in a way that says, ‘this is exactly what I want and that is unacceptable.’
As a leader one must not tire while in the ‘making process’ of yourself and of your followers. To have loyal ‘gladiators’ calls for greatness beyond mediocrity. Your impact only goes as far as you stretch yourself, creating opportunities for others to find a place alongside side you and together you can soar. Your attitude tells others what they expect in return and creating a business culture that is timeless will set your team’s mind on a receptive perspective to the future and how to prepare for it. Leadership calls for calculated tenacity, sacrifice, involvement, awareness and intention.
Credibility as a leader requires that you are a solid brand, proven through word and deed. Mediocre leaders seek for ‘likes’ but true leadership understands that respect is what breeds preference. This would call for making some unpopular choices against peers and predecessors. When patterns and traditions are broken, new opportunities come together. To earn authority in your business arena requires that you are constantly learning and evolving. Your influence on others creates a myriad of ripple effects. One cannot underestimate the ‘possibilities that could become’ from those you have impacted. Leadership requires that no matter how deep you are in the role, you must be available to your team as individuals and as a group. Encouraging others to grow and thrive is a step to equipping them to own their space and bring their best to the table. Those alongside you require to stay ahead of the curve to be relevant and equipped for the ever changing business trends.
Leadership has its clawed moments and you need to find a balance and maintain personal happiness. When you compare what you want with what you have, you will be unhappy. Compare what you deserve with what you have, and you will find inspiration. As a leader you learn that a person who never changes his opinion never corrects his mistakes. Learning from setbacks serves to clear your path as you continue to pursue your call and in service to others.
As a leader one must put in more than simply meets the eye. Networking is a deliberate step to increasing your networth. Collaborations open doors for learning and challenging yourself to do more and bring more to your industry. Lack of seeking consult as a leader may render you short sighted, misinformed or even worse toppled by an unmatched competitor. Advice is key in leading towards success in business and one should find all available options to gain information that will grow you and your business.
Finally, the exit plan. As your tenure as a leader in office nears an end (as it must), plan well and set the ball in early-bird motion to ensure that there are the least skid marks and hiccups as you exit. Allow your team time to prepare to connect with incoming leadership.