“A job is a vocation only if someone else calls you to do it for them rather than for yourself. And so our work can be a calling only if it is reimagined as a mission of service to something beyond merely our own interests. Thinking of work mainly as a means of self-fulfillment and self-realization slowly crushes a person.”
~ Timothy Keller (Every Good Endeavor)
What is your long term vision for your life? Do you have a vision of being a leader?
Leadership has nothing to do with title or rank. Instead, to become a leader, you must take the right actions that inspire others to follow. Leaders go out of their way to help people. They get the best out of the team members around them and inspire people to get the best from themselves in good times or bad. The leader is the one who puts others’ goals ahead of their own. They are someone who sees a need and fills it, regardless of their job description or title.
Here are the key steps to becoming a great leader:
- Be Someone People Want to Follow.The world is full of people who want to be leaders, thought leaders, or social media superstars with millions of “followers” without actually having to do something of value. In order to be a true leader, you need to do something that will earn the respect of those around you. Your attitude, your actions, and your example far outweigh your words. The leader is the one who sets high goals and achieves them. True leaders reinforce their mindset of being remarkable and accomplishing incredible feats daily. Leaders do something nobody has done yet and do the things other people aren’t willing to do.
Be passionate about what you do and create your work tribe. When you tie your life’s purpose to what you do, you become an unstoppable force leader. People are attracted to someone passionate about what they do. Creating a small tribe of people who you are serving and helping them achieve their goals is the beginning step of becoming a leader. To do that, you must transfer your inspiration and conviction to your tribe members as they join your team. Get them fired up about the company vision, your shared goals, and the role they can play in achieving them. When you become a source of inspiration, you become a leader that people want to follow.
Be someone who takes ownership. In the book Extreme Ownership, Navy SEALS Jocko Willink and Leif Babin share that when leaders take full ownership, they take full ownership of everything, even if it’s outside their control. They own their circumstances, unseen events, and failures. Leaders give credit for shared success to their team, and they take the blame for failures to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If you want to be a leader with influence, take full ownership.
- Create a track to run on. It’s much easier to walk on a path already paved, as followers do. Leaders are the ones who forge the way through discipline, massive effort, and thoughtful strategy. Leaders are the ones paving the path for others to follow. When you’re creating a track for other people to run on, see yourself as a pioneer.
A pioneer leader is someone willing to go where no one has gone before, someone who forges the path and creates the track for others to run on. Therefore, you’re leading them through what you’ve already done. “You can’t teach people what you don’t know, and you can’t lead where you won’t go,” said Spencer Hays, former Executive Chairman of Southwestern Family of Companies.
As you’re creating a track to run on, document the steps for each process you have come to follow naturally. Test the methods repeatedly until you are confident in them. Then, create a plan for someone to follow to become successful by learning, implementing, and frequently following the processes.
- A Great Leader is a Great Promoter. A great leader is a great promoter of the companies vision, mission, and values. They promote the companies’ principles over their own personality. Self-promotion leads to narcissism, and many leaders have fallen victim to their success. Make sure to put your focus on promoting the right things. Don’t focus your efforts on making yourself look good; concentrate your efforts on making the team look good. When you share and promote the successes of your team and company with conviction, people want to follow and join a successful team.
When you promote what you do, speak from the heart. Tell the truth about the benefits you provide the world and promote with a passion that connects with people, inspiring and motivating them to action. When you become a great promoter and have conviction in what you do, your actions and words will attract people to join your team and help with the cause.
Just imagine the impact you can create through leadership when you are an accomplished leader of influence, your followers have a track to run on, and they are inspired to take massive action. One of the best parts of forging a new path is that it lays the foundation for team members who want to become leaders. The doors you open and the examples you set will enable them to learn and grow – and open their own paths – when they are ready to step up and lead. Then you will become a leader of leaders, which creates immense opportunity for personal and professional impact in your direct team and the entire organization.