Before we jump to the six keys, let’s look at what is leadership?
Yes, it seems like a simple question. After all, it’s only three words. And leadership is a very common topic of discussion – we should have no trouble defining it.
Yet, maybe that’s just the problem. There are so many voices out there adding volume to the conversation, it can be easy to stray from the things we know.
So, what is leadership?
Of all the philosophers and thought leaders expounding on leadership, one that has contributed greatly to the conversation is John C. Maxwell. As one of the world’s foremost leadership experts for the last 40 years, Maxwell has defined leadership simply and powerfully:
“Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”
How does it help us?
Influence, as I am sure you know, is not just for the CEOs or project managers of the business world – it allows us to achieve our own goals and help others achieve theirs at the same time, regardless of anyone’s position or title.
How do we grow in it?
The starting point of influence is us. There is no leadership that does not begin with self-leadership! And there is no growth that does not begin with personal growth.
We can grow in our influence by improving in these six areas…
You’ve probably heard that “mindset is everything” – well, it’s not everything, but it certainly impacts everything. Attitude is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity. And a constructive outlook can’t help but overflow.
Think of it like this: imagine an uplifting person; they are fair and realistic, but don’t highlight problems without offering solutions. And then imagine a complainer – someone who is difficult to talk to because they see opposition everywhere they look.
Who will have more influence with you?
There is a one-to-one correlation between character and influence. There is no ethical, long-lasting influence without integrity (sure, you may earn influence for a time, but it will not last), and there is no display of true character that does not earn some kind of influence.
As a leader – regardless of title, but especially a positional leader – people always have their eyes on you. They may not be judging you or thinking harshly of you; it is only natural that we consider the leader the standard of the workplace.
They take their cues from you… both in what you do and what you don’t do. Alignment between your words and your actions speaks volumes about who you are and what you value, and what you demonstrate will be replicated.
One of my mentors speaks of the value of knowing your priorities. Once you have decided what is important to you, all of your decisions become simpler. You need only ask yourself, “Will this get me closer to x?” And if the answer is yes, then you decide in the affirmative.
Choose your values with intention and you will gain a clarity that communicates resolution to the people around you.
5. Problem-solving skills.
I used to say there is no quick fix for leadership growth… but that’s not exactly true. Problem-solving is a one-step formula for increasing your influence.
Early in my leadership career, I was promoted “above” the team I had previously been on. The first few months in that position were difficult, as they did not consider me their leader. I began using my new positional leadership to solve the problems they came to me about, and soon enough, they began to see me differently.
Leaders are not just managers; they are not only there to make orders that people follow. Leaders must see things in people, in organizations, and in the world, that are not there yet and influence others to make them come to be.
I would encourage you to pick one of these areas and see how you can improve it in the next week… I’ll have some suggestions for you next time!
Until next then,
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