I believe that everyone is a leader–not just those that have a fancy title. “In a world that is changing as rapidly as this one, we need to think differently about leadership,” says Susan Collins, author of Our Children Are Watching: Ten Skills for Leading the Next Generation to Success. “Leading is not done by those few in high places, but by parents and teachers and managers and those governing–all working together to create the world that we want.”
Leadership is a way of life; it is fully leveraging our best self, our unique strengths and talents in everything that we do. It is a way of thinking about our life rather than a way of acting. If one thinks as a leader, one takes responsibility and feels ownership for every part of one’s life.
Leadership starts on the inside. “Everything rises and falls on leadership,” writes John C. Maxwell, in his book The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. “If you can become the leader you ought to be on the inside, you will be able to become the leader you want to be on the outside.” And that is 24/7–not just on the job!
Qualities of Leaders
Because leadership is so connected to who we are deep down, every leader has a different style. Some charge full-steam ahead while other go about it more quietly. We now know that no style is necessarily better than the others–it’s the inner qualities that make the difference. It is also the ability to use emotional intelligence so that the leadership style is calibrated to match the demands of the situation. No one style is the right one in every situation.
Leaders know the difference a positive attitude makes and that great things can result just from having the right attitude. This requires vigilance about not only sustaining one’s personal attitude but also cultivating, reinforcing and nurturing the right attitude in others. Lessons from Daniel Goleman’s book Social Intelligence teach us that emotions are contagious–so spread good cheer when you can!
A Drive for Learning
Learning never stops; leaders are committed to learning from others, from opportunities and from mistakes. They yearn for new experiences, they look for ways to stretch themselves and they are relentlessly curious in their pursuit of continual learning. This drive for learning creates stimulating and invigorated environments where everyone thrives.
Commitment to Values
Leaders make an unwavering commitment to their values. True commitment inspires courage, passion and creativity. When people are united around important values they live and work at a higher level of commitment to doing what is best for the world.
Leaders are skilled listeners. Woodrow Wilson said, “The ear of the leader must ring with the voices of the people.” Leaders not only listen well, but they engage others in dialogue—discussions that encourage learning and result in new shared perspectives.
The best leaders thrive on helping others achieve their personal best; they are motivated by a desire for the highest good for all rather than personal glory. They do this by paying attention to what others are good at, how they do it and giving them feed forward about their strengths.
Think about your role as a leader in your life and how you can cultivate some of these practices as you live each day.
Author: Dr. Lynn K. Jones
Dr. Lynn K. Jones, Your Mojo Maven
Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry. She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves. An MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment.