To a certain extent, we are all leaders in some way. Whether it be knowingly or unknowingly, intentional or not, big or small. We are all leaders to at least someone in some way. So when we were presented with this project, really, we could have interviewed anyone. We could have interviewed our mom, our elderly neighbor, or Uncle Larry, because no matter who you talk to, they are guaranteed to be a leader for someone in their community. But what I think we were all looking for, were those exceptional leaders. Those who go above and beyond the general criteria for being a good community leader. People who are leaders, but perhaps in bigger ways than you and I. Those people whose impact is imminent and respected. And ultimately learning from these great leaders makes you, who might be a slightly less-great leader, to be better. Even if you feel you’re doing pretty good at being a leader, there is still always room to improve.
In this post, my goal is to show you how to become a better leader. And even the first paragraph had some tips.
Another thing about our leaders in the community, is that sometimes they don’t want to be acknowledged. Often, our leaders are not looking for a reward or for special recognition. They just do it because it feels right to them, and because it makes them feel good about themselves. Or as many of us define it as, humility. Some, even self-recognized leaders, wish not to be acknowledged for whatever reasons. And just like everything else, this needs to be respected and understood. That not all leaders want to have all the fame and glory and everything that goes with it. In fact, many of the leaders I talk to in everyday circumstance wish to not have the recognition.
To be a good leader, there are several simple things you can do. First you have to have a vision. A brighter and better vision for the future to achieve the goals you set for: A) yourself, and B) your group, or C) your community. You need also have good communication skills. Talking between members of B or C, resolving conflicts and getting things going. You need to be a good speaker with a big voice (because sometimes the loudest voice in the room is the one that’s heard. But as a leader, you make sure even the quietest voices are as loud as the ones that are screaming their opinions) and confidence in your stride. Your sentences make sense and even if you’re wrong, the way you said it makes it sound like you could be right. However, if you are wrong, admit it. You are going to make mistakes, and all we can do is learn from them. People by definition, aren’t perfect so when we make wrongs, learn from them so you can make more rights. As well, people trust you if you are honest.
But at the same time, you also have to be a really good listener. Like your mothers might have said, “God gave you one mouth to speak with, and two ears to listen with”. Basically saying “STOP TALKING TIMMY AND LISTEN TO ME”. Or in our case, listen more, talk less. This listening skill will also help you become a better leader over time because when you are listening, you are hearing what people have to say and therefore getting multiple different views on a certain subject. As well, if you are listening to other leaders, you are learning from them and can take their wisdom and apply it to you and your situations. Just like the old saying, “Bad artists borrow. Great artists steal.” Another thing about listening, better leaders are proven to be good listeners. Because again, sometimes the loudest voice in the room, isn’t the one that should be heard (looking at you Donald Trump). See this article, showing the importance of listening.
To the left is a “bible” on leadership. It is a great resource on becoming a better leader. Reading books, watching films or videos, and especially being in the presence of, or watching other great leaders are some of the best ways to help yourself be better in this. Even some things we wouldn’t necessarily expect, such as commercials, can give us tips on becoming a better leader.
Even though this commercial is about being a better athlete, many of the qualities needed for this are also similar or the same to the qualities in a leader. It’s also inspirational in the way that we can all be the next (in this case) Steven Stamkos, the next Nelson Mandela, the next [insert great leader’s name here].
So this is great and all, but how will I know if I’ve been a leader? Well there are a bunch of ways. One of the most obvious would be people straight-up telling you. When you are doing something well and people look up to you in the field of what you are doing, they will usually tell you how great you are at such-and-such. The same applies for being a leader. Another way you will know, is by seeing your affect on others. Especially if that affect is long-lasting. When you see your ideas and your work being respected by your peers and even people you don’t know, you will also see your leadership skills having influenced others in a good way.
Seeing this is very encouraging to anyone. Knowing that what you do makes a difference and seeing it in action would make anyone feel good. This leads to inspiration which repeats this whole great cycle again.
And where? Where can I be a leader? The answer to this question is simple. Everywhere! You can be a leader everywhere you go, even by simply just doing things that everyone should follow.
Now, to just sum it up, how can you be a better leader?
Start by talking to leaders. Learn from them. And learn also from books and any other resource you can find. Watch the leaders you admire and respect. See what they do and try to follow in their footsteps. And remember, you are not perfect. You are going to make mistakes. That is for sure. So learn from them. If you fall, find out why and decrease the chances of that happening again. Next time, you’ll tie your shoes. Learn as you go. You also have to learn a bit by osmosis. Finally, you can always get better. But that doesn’t mean you are bad.