What is a Leader?
Someone said the first week of October was the most “2020” week that had happened so far in 2020.
It’s hard not to agree.
A lot of conversations I’ve had in the last few days have focused on the topic of leadership. It’s hard not to talk about leadership when it’s all over the news as the underlying theme in some of the biggest areas of discussion, such as the upcoming elections, organizations continuing to navigate the impact of COVID-19 and families working through challenges with schooling at home. Leaders are needed in each of these situations, and they need to show up in a big way.
But we’re not seeing it. So it begs the question: how do you define leader? What makes a person an effective leader vs. just carrying the title?
Here’s what I think:
A leader is someone who is in charge – earned or not, they have the title (and we know a title doesn’t make a leader… read on).
A leader is someone who can make decisions.
A leader is someone who has (often) worked hard to obtain the knowledge they have that got them to the place where they are today.
But an effective leader is different. An effective leader is someone who:
- is aware of their strengths and how to manage them up or down as the situation requires
- can make confident decisions in a short amount of time with the information they have
- knows the importance of being adaptable, flexible, resilient and agile, because the world is constantly changing
- is able to change direction without pointing fingers or complaining because they are confident in themselves
- is aware of their liabilities and blind spots and seeks out guidance and insight from others who are strong in those areas and can provide the information needed to help reach the greatest and most effective decision
- isn’t afraid to admit they don’t know
- is someone who inspires confidence in others and challenges and encourages others to work towards their potential to be the best versions of themselves
- inspires trust and loyalty
An effective leader can be a parent, a family member, a friend, a colleague, a teacher, a neighbor. Regardless of their role, they have and live the attributes of an effective leader.
So, how do you define a leader? Think about those who you would consider leaders and assess their attributes. Summarize what you feel makes a productive and unproductive leader. Then, check in on yourself. How you are a productive and effective leader in the areas of your work and life? How are you unproductive? What do you to work on to be more successful?
Titles are great but they don’t define the person from the inside, and that is where leadership resides. You know a leader not by what they say about themselves as much as what others say about them. Those who guide, engage, support and encourage others are true leaders. Be one. Set the example. Set the standard. Inspire others.
Consider reading Coronavirus: 3 Things You Can Do to Prepare Your Organization for the Unexpected on TLNT (written by Jay Forte)