Ok, so you want to be an effective leader. You’re working hard, and focused on accomplishing THAT goal. You’re focused on your dream of carving a path for yourself in the world. Many of you have had a taste of working the nine to five, and you know is just not for you. You don’t want to report to someone.
You don’t want to punch someone else’s clock. You don’t want to be stuck in a box. You want to control your life. You have a vision. You want to create the thing of you dream of doing, and you want to make money doing it…lots of it.
So, where do you start? Well, of course there are lots of manuals, magazine, articles and scores of scholarly text written on this topic, but, newsflash… it’s not rocket science. Each of us knows what it takes to lead. That knowledge is innate within us. If you don’t readily know what it takes to be a leader, you can easily recognize these traits in others. Read on to see if you’ve got what it takes.
Vision. Vision is the ability to “see” what you want and where you want to go. Great leaders also have the ability to en-“vision” something people want and more importantly, create a solution to solve that problem. Some leaders are even able to create a need for something where there was no need before. Contrary to what most people think, great leaders are dreamers. At the same time, they are able to formulate a concrete plan to execute the necessary steps to turn that dream into a reality.
When you think of being a leader, first think of these questions – what do you dream of? What do you want to do with your life if you could do whatever you wanted? What brings you joy? What are you good at?
The answer lies therein. The thing that you dream of could create an innovation. The answer to what you want to do with your life could be something no one has thought of before. When you think of what brings you joy, you get excited. When you think of what you good at, it stirs up your creative juices; you feel a certain sense of sureness about that thing.
If you can truthfully answer the questions above, then you are on your way to creating your vision. Either way, this is good, you’ve passed step one.
Knowing Your Business. Having a vision is important, but not everything. You have to be both a dreamer and have the technical know-how to get where you need to go with your business. This means that you have to know the trends. Does your industry have cycles? Is the product in demand at certain times? When should you purchase materials? Do people want to buy what you want to sell…now? Will they want to in the future? How adaptable is your business to market, globalization, cultural and technological trends? Do you know everything there is to know about your business? Are you knowledgeable? Will people want to hear what you want to say? Are you an innovator or are you just jumping on a popular bandwagon?
Commitment to Achieving Your Mission. Do you have what it takes to make it in the long haul? Do you have that stick-to-it-ive-ness? Can you weather the challenges ahead? Are you going give up when the going gets tough or will you prepare for that time by having Plan A, B and C? Will you turn challenges into solutions?
Often times, with a new business, it takes years to see profitability. You will need to be patient as you garner customers, their trust, market share and establish yourself as a niche provider of that product or service. You need to exercise patience for the two to three years that it will take to see the fruits of your labor.
Most new businesses lose money or are not very profitable the first few years. They don’t have a steady stream of customers, market themselves properly or put enough time into the business. They have too many other competing priorities; and don’t know how to attract and retain a loyal customer base. I made the same mistakes. After a few years of not getting anywhere, in 2007, I became more focused on achieving my businesses goals. I researched the market, began to network, advertise and position myself more strategically. In FY 2007, Q1, I began to see results. I met and exceeded my financial goals.
Valuing Your Team. You need to value your employees. This is how you will motivate them. Employees feel motivated not only by getting a paycheck; they tend to be more loyal and committed when they know their employer cares. Learn who they are and the things that are important to them. Learn the names of the people in their families and the friends that are important. Take time out to go and sit with them and chat. Go out to lunch or get some coffee together. I find that creating a ritual with your employees is a great way to bond. Some successful teams do things like have a dinners occasionally, where each person attends with their significant team member. Some teams play paintball, others take a class together or have potlucks every few months. Find what works for your budget and your team, and just do it.
Be the Best You. As you grow in life and venture out into its various tributaries, one of the single most important ways you can be a great leader is to cultivate your best self. A good leader knows his or her strengths and weaknesses and is implementing continuous improvement at all times.
Know yourself, and work to be the example you seek in the world. Look at other successful leaders and learn from their failures and successes. Drink in the knowledge of those that came before you and that are succeeding in their various industries today. Make it your daily study to implement strategies that they employed in their personal lives that impacted them financially. Were they focused and determined? Were they organized and great time planners? Did they value the people in their lives? Did they surround themselves with like-minded people, ones who were creating their best lives and positive? Did they value themselves and work to continuously improve who they were? Did they take time to play, knowing that they were where they needed to be and would get where they were going when they got there?
You will find that as you grow, you will value yourself more. In turn, you will respect, honor and value others – and your employees more. They, then, will respect you more as a leader and as a person.
Some leaders have the approach that they are always right. They have a heavy hand when making decisions. They judge, criticize, are unforgiving, don’t motivate and isolate themselves from other people. What kind of person are you? The person that you are creates the leader you will be. Be the example that you seek. In turn, you will encounter and achieve great success.
As an author, activist, entrepreneur, empowerment expert and motivational speaker Maimah Karmo wants you to live your best life, fully connected with those around you, utilizing your potential to the fullest and moving towards realizing your highest self in this lifetime.
By John Benson