In any given company, few people are leaders; so it tends to reason that we are primarily a society of followers.
Why is this?
The simple answer is twofold: first, there is no such thing as a “natural born” leader, and secondly, leadership skills are rarely taught in our classrooms. Leadership, if offered, is an elective rather than a requirement.
As the leader of a company, you know your best path to success is not to create a team of followers. It is to create a team of leaders. And you also know that leaders don’t “just happen”.
This puts leadership development high on your list of priorities. But many corporate training programs address only half of the equation.
What is leadership, and why does it escape so many of us?
- Leadership is the art of making possibilities a reality. This is accomplished via personal leadership, where you are leading in your field of expertise, and via team leadership, where you are tapping into the expanded expertise of each leader on your team. Leading a team of leaders compounds the results.
- Leadership is also truth. You have to be true to the man or woman in the mirror before you can be true to your team.
The Two-Part Leadership Development Formula
Your followers can become effective leaders with the right training and mindset.
The good news is, all the skills necessary to be a good leader are learnable. Initiative, vision, empowerment, attraction, modeling, and directing are skills that can be taught and applied systematically.
But knowing how to lead is only half the battle.
Leadership development starts, not with training, but with mindset. You can offer your employees the best leadership training available. You can spend thousands of dollars sending them to seminars. And you could still end up with “followers” if you do not first address mindset.
Even those who apply the training will hit a wall of ineffectiveness if mindset is not well established.
The reality is, leadership is more of a mind game than a skill set.
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As an executive coach, I see this every day at all levels of an organization – even amongst those at the top. Limiting beliefs are the traitorous betrayers of leadership.
The key is to know your own personal limiting beliefs and to develop tactics ahead of time to deal with them. Having a plan and an accountability partner will keep you on track when limiting beliefs attempt to derail you. And rest assured, they will.
To lead successfully, there are four critical elements of mindset that must be in place.
Character is what activates and empowers your leadership ability. There are no “gray areas” when it comes to character. Leaders cannot afford to cross the line between right and wrong. Many who do are overwhelmed by the stress of their success or actually on the brink of disaster. If this is you or someone on your team, don’t think unaddressed cracks in character will just go away. Get help!
Commitment inspires and attracts people to leaders because it shows they have conviction. While commitment means something different to each person, it almost always comes from the heart. And we all know that heart is what separates the good from the great. Unfortunately, most people set goals but quit when the going gets tough. To go from “dropout” to “all-out”, a business coach can help guide you.
Courage is about taking risk, especially at challenging times. Courage is setting the ultimate example for your people. It means you’re willing to take a stand, or draw a line in the sand, and to encourage others to do the same. Courage comes down to one thing: principle, and whether you’re willing to stand up for it, or not. Do you stare fear down, or do you hide from it?
Passion makes it possible for ordinary people to create extraordinary results. Passion is the fuel that increases willpower. You can never lead something you don’t feel passionate about. If you don’t have passion for what you’re doing, consider digging down deep and searching for what you’re truly passionate about, then bring that passion back into your work. Sometimes loss of passion is a symptom of burnout, in which case re-balancing the other areas of your life could result in renewed energy for your work.
Do you and your team have solid leadership skills? If so, you’re halfway there.
But don’t miss the second – and most important part – of the equation. Get the mindset right as well.
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. For help in creating a solid leadership mindset plan for yourself or your team, “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.