This is a version of an article originally written by a Vice-President of Sales at a major global airline.
Self-belief and self-trust is everything. Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is quoted as saying ‘Being confident and believing in your own self-worth is necessary to achieving your potential’ as well as asking ‘What would you do if you weren’t afraid?’
Both are thought-provoking statements in themselves because it’s suggested that if you let deep fears keep you from achieving your potential, you are limited. To be a true leader you need to be limitless, and that means losing the deep fears…
But how do we do that? How do we lose the fears holding us back?
Take the Initiative
Lead, don’t follow. Don’t wait to be asked. Take the next step forward you wouldn’t normally take and seize opportunities where you can, no matter how seemingly small the gain.
Show Your Whole Self
Showing your whole, true self takes bravery but those in your charge want (and need) to see who you really are, not most of you, or a caricature or an act, but the whole, real you. It’s not easy but if you insist on honesty and trust from your team, that must come first from you.
Leadership Belongs to Leaders
Leaders (for ‘leaders’ read managers, directors or anyone at management level in a business or organisation) are all about taking responsibility, making decisions – however hard they might be – and using initiative. Leaders step up and take control, the accept challenges and they work hard and smart. There are plenty of managers who don’t manage, directors who don’t direct and they are found out very quickly. Don’t accept the title without being prepared to do the work.
Never Stop Learning
There should be an end to that sentence. It should read ‘never stop learning, never stop doing.’ You can learn as much as you like and think as much as you like but if you’re doing plenty of thinking and plenty of learning but not putting any of it into practice (and making mistakes along the way, no-one ever got it right first time), it could be deemed a waste of time…
Develop skills like listening, communicating and actually hearing what’s being said. We learn more than we realise from others and sometimes, just sometimes, they’re right…
Courage, Determination & Confidence
Bravery, while a commendable trait to have is subtly different to having courage. Bravery is jumping off a bridge tied to a bungee rope, courage comes from deep within. It’s your true self. Have the courage of your own convictions but also have to courage to admit when you’re wrong or admit the job could be done more efficiently another way.
Determination can get you a long way, as can confidence, but don’t allow confidence to stray into arrogance territory. Without confidence, everything seems harder and more challenging.
Accountability = Empowerment
A bit of a cliché to be sure, but the theory is sound. Be accountable for your decisions and be empowered by them. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more responsibility and accountability you have, the more empowered you are and therefore it becomes exponentially easier to accept more responsibility and with that more accountability…until you’re in complete control of yourself and everything around you.
Be (Self) Aware
We live in a world where everyone and everything is moving at a lightning-fast pace. For those who remember the 1980s, Ferris Bueller said ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ He’s right. Slow the pace down. Take a step back and look around you. To be a real leader you need to see the whole picture.
As well as taking a holistic view of what you’re doing, you need to also be self-aware. None of us are perfect and we all have flaws and areas of weakness regardless of if we care to admit it or not so it’s just as useful an exercise to understand where you can improve and work on those areas.
Be A Role Model
*CLICHÉ ALERT* Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Is the book as good as the film? In other words, you might look like a leader with your snappy suits and expensive shoes but do you act and talk like one?
The late, great poet, singer, memoirist and civil rights activist Maya Angelou said, ‘People might forget what you said or what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel’ and true leadership is very much conducted along those lines. Leadership by example should be ingrained into your DNA. You still remember the names of your favourite teachers, the sports coaches or music teachers who stayed after practice and encouraged you to be better and the managers and leaders at work who made you realise ‘yes, I can do it…’
Your People First, Always
By putting your people first, they will put your customers first. Lead by example. Communicate with them, empower them, listen to them and motivate them and they will do whatever you ask of them.
No-one ever dreams about owning a Ford Focus. No-one ever dreams about working as a middle-manager in a call centre. You may start there but true leaders reach for the sky. Have the idea and work towards it. When you get there, have a bigger idea.
If you can do these things you will become a limitless leader.
For more information on how to be a great leader, please contact us today.