Leadership is not a destination, but a life long journey. I have come to realize that leadership is really more about discovering your life’s purpose to be the best person you can be in order to positively influence others. Leaders are not born, but they are becoming one. It’s about growing and cultivating the best version of ourselves.
Leadership may seem complex and associated with a lot of responsibility. After all, you are impacting people’s lives. I love the quote by Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE,” “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
I’m not sure if we ever reach the ultimate “leadership” destination in our lives. We learn, we fail, and we grow to become the best we can be. It’s about transformational inner courage.
Lao-Tzu, a Chinese philosopher and the founder of Taoism rightfully said that, “Knowing others is intelligence, but knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
When I began my leadership journey, I relied on instincts instead of values and principles to guide me at least in the beginning. As I stumbled and developed, I discovered few things that can help many leaders on their journey to become a better leader.
Let me share some of them with you. I did not learn them in a day or a year, but many years and continue to grow and learn through every experience and reflection.
The best part about it all, you become better and others are around feel more empowered, valued and appreciated for their contribution.
Have Courage-Courage is a must for any leader. Aristotle once said that, “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” Why is courage required for leadership?
It takes courage to learn and reflect on your own behavior. It takes courage to make a decision to take the lead. Leadership is not someone else’s job, but your job every day, wherever you are. Most people are afraid to take the first step. They are afraid to fail. But great leaders know that the journey is never a straight line. It’s filled with detours and wrong turns along the way. I realized that’s it’s a journey, not a destination because I continue to make mistakes, but I learn from them. I learn to be a better person and a better leader. So, it takes courage to be a leader.
A Sense of Humility-Humility is opening your heart. It’s what’s inside of you that speaks the truth and creates lasting leadership. When you are able to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself, no matter what the situation is- a true reflection will appear. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but more of yourself. Let me explain. When you are honest with yourself and see the whole truth, you become free to explore more of what’s inside of you that you didn’t know you had.
Build Resilience-Leadership is not easy and you need a warrior’s spirit to continue the journey. There will be set backs, challenges and failures. However, the real question is how you bounce back from those challenges. Are you willing to push forward and stay strong in the most difficult times? People follow someone who can lead and show the way when adversity is embraced with a sense of optimism.
Communicate effectively-One of the biggest lesson in my leadership journey is understanding that in order to be an effective leader, I must be an effective communicator. Open, clear communication and trust are the foundation of all relationships. If you can work on honing your communication skills to build trust and openness with people-you will be a successful leader.
When I think of leadership, I think about a big mountain that I have to climb. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to climb Mt. Everst, said “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”
What would you pack up on your leadership journey?