“Being a leader is like being a lady. If you have to go around telling people you are one, you aren’t” ~ Margaret Thatcher
Early in my working life I didn’t really understand what the term “leadership” meant, probably since in ancient times it was considered a buzzword the same way that “ping” (as in I’ll ping you) is a buzzword today.
When I first heard the term LEADERSHIP it was described in such a way that suggested it was interchangeable with another often-misunderstood word, that being MANAGEMENT. And since these words appeared as synonymous I figured that leadership always meant management and therefore could only be found in workplace scenarios.
This idea was reinforced even more by the management keeners who’d spout out well-rehearsed rhetoric like “The manager’s job is to lead his team to victory!” and so on whilst trying to rally the troops at the restaurant where we all worked.
Because of this false introduction to leadership, the idea that it could be anything other than cheesy, work-related motivational speeches was a foreign concept. However, after a while my thoughts on leadership began to change; a change brought on by watching these same managers indulge in all-night drinking sprees at the restaurant’s bar.
These benders usually resulted in at-work hangovers the next day; which in turn usually resulted the management explanation of “Because I said so” being used to inspire the same employees towards the same Shared victories these clowns often spoke of.
This is when I realized that while being a successful manager means displaying strong leadership qualities – a key word being “successful” – that the concepts of leadership and management are not the same; in fact, they are about as far apart as London and Tokyo, both literally and figuratively.
It’s important to understand that while leadership is it’s own entity, it’s 100% NOT just about how we approach our work, not at all. True leadership is about how we treat everyone we deal with, as well as all the situations we encounter, each and every single day.
This all-encompassing approach is known as Personal Leadership.
Personal Leadership is all about integrity, and treating those around us with dignity and respect. It’s about using our words and actions to better the lives of other people; to make them feel good, safe and respected with every encounter. It asks us to set the bar high so that we can live our lives to be viewed as examples, not warnings.
Personal Leadership isn’t a result of the luck of the draw; nor is it whom we know, what job we have, who we are related to, or whether or not we have a full head of hair – Thank goodness!
Personal Leadership is taking care and responsibility to leave things better than we found them. It’s lending a helping hand when needed, and demonstrating integrity when no one is watching. It’s taking the high road by doing the right thing – regardless of personal cost or sacrifice.
And finally, Personal Leadership is a choice! It’s 100% about our attitude and behavior and how we choose to carry ourselves every day. It’s about using dignity and integrity as a compass to guide our actions and behaviors.
Best of all is that anyone can begin the journey towards Personal Leadership today, right now, this very minute simply by behaving like a leader, and doing the things leaders do.
So with these things in mind, here are the very best thirteen Personal Leadership traits anyone can use to demonstrate, er… exemplary Personal Leadership to their friends, family, peers and work colleagues. And by doing so, anyone can become a rock star friend, parent/sibling and work partner that can be counted on at all costs… And who wouldn’t want that?
Thirteen Personal Leadership Traits
- Leadership treats everybody with respect: It is polite and kind to both strangers and friends alike. Leadership uses pleasantries like “please”, thank-you” and “excuse me” at every single encounter it has during every single day.
- Leadership sets goals, and works to achieve those goals: It understands that setting goals, then making plans to achieve them is how to best move forward in life. Leadership doesn’t make excuses, nor does it quit halfway through a task or job. It does the job fully and completely, and without fail.
- Leadership doesn’t see the glass as half empty, but half full: It doesn’t dwell on the negative aspects of situations, but looks for solutions to problems, then offers support to help those involved.
- Leadership takes responsibility: It knows that regardless of the situation, the buck stops with them. When crisis is at hand, it doesn’t watch the clock, keep score or pass on the problem; Leadership does whatever it has to do to in order get both the ship and it’s crew back on course.
- Leadership is proactive, not reactive: It carefully plans, strategizes and organizes situations in advance to be fully prepared for any outcome. When challenges do arise, Leadership takes ownership, and tackles them with knowledge, confidence and a calm demeanour.
- Leadership is flexible: It knows that at times we all need to be flexible in our approach to certain situations, and will adapt accordingly to ensure the best outcome for both the situation at hand, and the people involved.
- Leadership communicates clearly, and effectively: It understands that the respect it garners is a direct result of the quality of its communication. Spoken or written, Leadership effectively communicates points openly and clearly so that all involved understand the message. It listens twice as much as it speaks to ensure that all sides of issues are heard before any decisions are made.
- Leadership is open-minded: It does not approach people or things with prejudice or malice; it makes decisions based on facts and fairness to all involved. Leadership is willing to test new waters only if it is for the good of the whole team, and treats everyone with respect.
- Leadership understands it does not know everything! It is constantly learning and growing by reading books, and attending seminars & workshops. Leadership knows that to be current, it must stay current. This means to be always, always be growing and learning new things, both personally and professionally.
- Leadership welcomes feedback: It does not play the “boss” card, but asks for opinions and suggestions. It understands that everyone has an opinion, and leadership provides opportunities to be heard. When it doesn’t agree, Leadership isn’t rude or condescending; it is appreciative and supportive, always saying thank you to all participants, regardless of their contributions.
- Leadership is organized: It understands that tasks and projects often need hours of preparation to appear effortless. Leadership does not take on all the work itself; it delegate tasks, then supports team members all the way through to the completion of those tasks.
- Leadership has a sense of humor: It understands that nothing bonds people together like a good laugh. Whilst it deals with serious issues in a serious way, Leadership also understands that when appropriate, humor is a great tool to connect to people.
- Above all, Leadership inspires: It motivates teams. It shows people what can be, and then inspires and leads them there. Leadership challenges individuals to better tomorrow than they are today; then offers support and guidance on their journey. Leadership always asks, “How can I help?” and then delivers.
You now have all you need; get out there and kick some serious Personal Leadership butt!