It takes courage to learn how to be a leader, but even if you have fears that have kept you from leadership roles so far doesn’t mean that you can’t overcome them and achieve positions of leadership.
Each decision you make in your personal and business life is a testament to your courage. Something as simple as refusing a rich dessert because you want to stay fit takes a certain amount of courage if you have gnawing cravings for sugar.
Other decisions you must make may be monumental and require the courage of a lion. A decision to quit a high-paying job to follow your life’s dream is a major decision that takes courage – and planning. And, some decisions may seem unimportant in the moment, but later you may see that they were life-changing.
Courage promotes confidence and self-esteem and builds a framework in which you can accomplish pretty much anything you set out to do. Think of the genius, Stephen Hawking, and how much he overcame to become one of the leading scientists and writers of our time.
It must have taken a tremendous amount of courage for Hawking to work through physical disabilities and manage to keep the passion for his work.
Another great leader of courage was King George VI of England who overcame a speech impediment to give one of the greatest speeches at a time when the world needed it most.
Working through your greatest fears to have the courage to do something remarkable can lead you to success.
Here are some steps you can take in your own life that will help you build the courage you need to accomplish anything:
- Create a positive environment – Surround yourself with people who are positive and who believe in you. Building skills and talents needs those who will bolster your self-confidence and increase your self-worth.
- Maintain a positive attitude – Dealing with issues that challenge you can be turned into an opportunity for success. Try to think of each challenge in your life as an opportunity to use your skills and instincts to overcome and triumph.
- Get out of your comfort zone – You’ll never develop courage if you’re in a rut. Each day, find something challenging and outside of what you normally do and try it. When you open yourself to various situations, you learn to cope.
- Don’t let fear hold you back – Humans can become fearful of anything. Even situations that are supposed to be happy can become fearful if you overthink the situation. Get rid of those “what if”’s in your mind and replace them with positive thoughts.
- Enjoy the struggle – Yes, you can enjoy the challenges that life brings if you know that it’s building the courage inside you that will spur you on to bigger and better things. Life’s challenges only serve to make you a stronger and more courageous person.
Each time you accomplish something or overcome a fear, your confidence will grow stronger. The courage of a true leader is accomplished by taking small steps rather than overcoming one big challenge, so take the steps to build your courage and be amazed at the results.
How to be a leader and lead others
Learning how to lead people will make you more effective at your work as it will make the people you are leading more productive. Doing it right will gain you respect that can last for a long time.
- Listen to Your Team It’s not necessary for leaders to know everything. They will need to get input from the team. Teams are usually made up of people with varying skills and even intelligence. Always ask your team for input and listen to what they have to say. You may still be required to make any final decisions, but when you get the team involved, they will feel connected.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Make Tough Decisions Your team may not like every decision you make. That can often scare leaders into not making the right decisions, or worse, no decisions at all. As long as you have reasons for making your decisions, you can use that to back them up when people challenge your decisions.
- Delegate to Team Members Leaders make the mistake of trying to manage everything. Sometimes it’s best to find a few members of your team who you can trust to carry out some of your functions. You may have to give up some power, but you can hold those members accountable in exchange.
- Admit When You’re Wrong Everyone makes mistakes. Leaders are no different. When you make a mistake, be up front with your team about it. They will respect this more than were you to try and cover up those mistakes. The key is to try and get everyone on the team to learn from those mistakes.
- Show Appreciation When your team members do good work, make sure you let them know about it. Appreciation goes a long way, and they will appreciate you back for it. When you gain their respect, they will do more for you after you give them kudos.
- Be Willing to Jump In Just because you are the leader does not mean you can’t lend a hand and pitch in. Sometimes the team may need some extra help, and you should be ready to offer that to them. This does not mean that you have to do their work for them. Having you as the backup can help the team succeed.
- Be a Mentor to Team Members If you can help your members to become more successful, the whole team will benefit. Act in a mentor capacity to help them achieve the objectives of the team.
- Participate in Team Activities When the team meets up after work for a gathering, be willing to participate, at least, some of those extra-office activities. Your team will want to get to know you outside of the office and will want you to get to know them as well. When possible, try to get the company to pick up the tab on occasion.
- Keep Meetings as Short as Possible If you have to have meetings, make sure you keep them as short as you can. Your team is trying to get their work done, and they don’t need to be bogged down in long meetings.
Attend the next after-work gathering of your team or schedule one yourself. Try to attend at least one per month.
Recognize members of your team that have been excelling at their jobs and show appreciation for them. It can be as simple as thanking them for doing a great job.
Commit to having your next meeting last no more than ½ hour to 45 minutes. Have an agenda and stick to it. Announce to the team of your intention of holding the meetings short.
How to Be an Inspirational Leader
You can be a leader – by demand, or you can be an inspirational leader that has respect from the crowd.
Whether you aspire to be an inspiration to a congregation, a business or your kids you should know that there are some common practices that inspirational leaders adhere to no matter who or what they want to inspire.
If you think that free coffee and donuts in the break room is going to inspire your employees to come to work – or that telling kids how you walked a mile to school, barefoot in the snow is going to inspire your kids to do well in school, you need to rethink your courses of action.
An inspirational leader removes barriers for getting work done and then joins in the work itself and gets the job done. Some qualities that inspirational leaders bring to the table are:
- Enthusiasm – When you express passion for what you’re doing, others become ignited from your passion like one candle lighting another. You may not be enthused about a course of action your company is taking, but you can have enthusiasm about getting everyone onboard to make it happen.
- Tell Stories – You may notice that whenever a president gives the “State of the Union” address, he tells inspirational stories of others. Some may make you cry, but all will elicit some type of emotion. When you tell personal stories about your company or how people are helped by what you’re involved in, others will be inspired.
- Communicate a Vision – A lower-level employee may not become inspired about a plan for your company that’s going to make the executives lots of money in their stock portfolios – but they will become inspired when you can communicate a vision of what it will do for them.
- Honesty – No matter what the challenge, an inspirational leader will face it with honesty. If you’ve made a mistake that’s affecting your business or your family, you should be honest and forthright – and have a plan to overcome any adversity.
- Respect – When you earn respect from others you’re on your way to becoming a leader who inspires. Ethics and integrity garner respect and how you conduct yourself during hardships is also a key quality in leaders who inspire.
Ask yourself what inspires you to new heights or to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. When you find the answer, you can experience peak performance because you’ll know what it takes to get you there.
When you know what inspires others, you can be the leader who takes others to greater heights than they ever imagined. Listen to others, know what inspires them and you can become the inspirational leader you want to be.
Have You Heard the Term It’s Lonely at the Top?
You probably have heard the term “it’s lonely at the top”. The top, in this case, refers to people who are in leadership positions like managers. It is used to reference the fact that managers have to make decisions that people won’t be happy about.
For instance, suppose your manager tells your team they have to work in the coming weekend. How popular will that decision be for the team?
It’s unclear where the phrase originated. Some believe it came from the 1972 song by Randy Newman called, “Lonely at the Top.” However, it’s likely to have been coined much earlier than that.
Whoever coined the phrase, there is no doubt what it means. When you are in a leadership position, you won’t have the friends you used to have.
While people may not enjoy the decisions you are left to make, they will respect them. Of course, that depends on how you present those decisions. If you are not firm in your handling of decisions, people will read this as being weak. Once that occurs, you will have a difficult time recovering from that perception. Be firm and don’t waiver.
You should get as much information as possible before making decisions. Plenty of leaders will fly off the handle with decisions. They won’t take into account that more information is needed before making the decisions. This causes the wrong decisions to be made. The people who are affected by these decisions will get angry, and you will lose credibility as their leader.
Again, once that happens, you will need to work hard to gain their trust back.
When you accept a leadership role, accept the responsibility that goes along with it. People aren’t going to like every choice you make. They need to come to terms with that. You can have an open forum with them to discuss decisions that affect them. However, you are the one who has been put in charge of those decisions. Make them with confidence.
You are going to make mistakes with several decisions. When you believe you have all the necessary information, new facts may emerge to throw the original concept out of whack. There isn’t much you can do about it except finding alternative actions and decisions.
Your confidence will mean much for your credibility when this occurs. However, when you exude that confidence, your team will give you the respect you deserve.
- The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
- Leadership: Theory and Practice
- Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
- Mindful Leadership
- The Leadership Challenge