How do you become a good leader? I will answer that question in this article. Before I get to that, think of your leadership development as a journey and not a destination. You will never arrive at total leadership effectiveness.
My definition of leadership is: a leader is someone that provides what is needed in any given situation to achieve the desired result. Yes, leadership is situational, and there are principles of leadership that can be applied to any situation. So let’s get started.
The Right Mental Attitude
There are a lot of things a leader cannot control, but the one thing a leader can control is how they think. Developing the right mental attitude is critical for leadership. Your team will be engaged and fulfilled in the work they do if you create the right environment for them to thrive in. Creating the right environment starts with how you think.
You may have heard that everyone should have a positive mental attitude. What exactly is a positive mental attitude?
Annie Lawler, a professional who works with many corporate clients and leaders says:
“Becoming a positive thinker isn’t (as some people imagine) sticking your head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge anything negative. The true positive thinker can see both negative and positive and looks for opportunity and learning to be gained from even challenging situations and is more resilient as a result.”
She goes on to say:
“How we look at things and what we focus on affects our entire wellbeing and colors how we experience life. If we’re always looking to find fault with things and waiting for the worst to happen, we tend to experience things in a negative way and conversely, if we make a habit of looking for the good things in life, our experiences are more likely to be positive.”
So the right mental attitude is not nieve but creates a positive view of whatever the circumstances are that surround them.
This takes practice. One thing you can do is observe your thoughts and keep a journal of the reoccurring thoughts that are both positive and negative. Your observations will help you in developing your mental attitude.
Develop Your Leadership Skills
There is little substantive debate anymore about whether leaders born or are they developed. Leaders are developed. Having said that everyone is born with certain attributes that will aid them in being a great leader. At the end of the day though leaders develop those attributes to become great leaders.
Just as leaders are always working on developing the right mindset, leaders are also always working on skill development.
There are may skills to develop as a leader, but let’s go over three of the key basic leadership skills.
- Communication – the leader has to be able to communicate effectively. Communication is a foundation in what I call the Framework for Effective Leadership. The Leader has to be able to communicate the vision, obtain buy-in, give feedback, resolve conflict, and delegate. All of the aforementioned require great communication skills to be executed effectively.
- Time management – leaders don’t manage time, they use time effectively. The first principle of time management is to have clear goals. Without clear goals, you cannot use time effectively. A good leader knows that there will never be time enough to do it all. There will always be something to do. The key is to be doing the most important thing at any given time.
- Developing others – great leaders coach and mentor members of their team so those team members can grow and develop their own leadership. Leaders develop leaders.
“First, leader development efforts that produce the best leaders need senior leaders not only to plan the initiative, but also to take an active part as coaches, mentors, teachers, and, of course, as examples. And that takes the most precious resource any of us have as leaders—not budget dollars, but time. This requires a change in behavior and hence culture because most experienced leaders will say that the higher up they went, the more their time is occupied by meetings that “required” their presence and that the advent of e-mail and Blackberries has them on a non-stop information overload tether to their boss and their employees. This issue is precisely why the best leadership development programs identify 3Cs—because it is critical to success that time priority for leaders is blocked for just that purpose.
Growing leaders requires that senior leaders carve out time to serve as coaches, mentors, teachers, and role models. Read More… The 3Cs in Developing Leaders – Making Time to Grow Leaders“
Lastly, the leader has to have a framework to operate inside of. A framework is a structure that a leader can use to support success. The framework allows the leader to examine what is being successful and what is missing from their leadership.
Here is my Framework for Effective Leadership
So to answer the question: how do you become a good leader? Start with the things mentioned in this article. If you do that you will be on your way to being a great leader