The idea of being a leader may seem very simple in its core principles. All you have to do to become one is lead people, correct? Surely, this means anyone owning a business or being a manager is automatically a leader, right? After all, you are in charge of groups of people and have to lead them in the right direction.
I find this is not the case at all. Being a true leader is not so much about the title you own, but the actions you commit. Some of you reading this might be business owners or be in positions of power where people turn to you for help and guidance. However, are you a true leader?
The only real way to see if you are a proper leader is to look at what true leaders have and do. By seeing this, you will learn to be a better leader and live up to your title.
They Plan For the Worst
There’s an old saying that goes; plan for the worst, hope for the best. This is where true leaders really come into their own. The best leaders will always have plans in place for worst-case scenarios. This shows they’re thinking ahead and already considering what will happen when something goes wrong. Apply this to a work/business setting, and you’ll find many actions that come under this heading. As you can see on EquifyLLC.com, there’s this thing called commercial insurance, which people can purchase to protect their business from bad scenarios. True leaders do this as it ensures minimal disruption and damage if something happens and your business assets get lost. Then, you have simple ideas like writing a contingency plan in case a business idea fails. The real leaders in life will often be thinking about failures as much as they’re thinking about success.
They Lead By Example
If you look at all the great leaders in life – no matter if they’re in business, politics, sports, etc. – there’s one thing they have in common. A true leader will lead by example and inspire those around them. This means they don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk as well. If you’re the head of a sales team and you constantly tell people to do this and that to boost their sales, then you have to lead by example. You should lead the sales every month; prove to everyone that your advice works and that they should follow you. If you’re trying to lead a team, but your own performance is lacking, then people aren’t likely to pay much attention to what you say. Too many passive ‘leaders’ in the world rely on words to get their point across. Often, the best way to get people to follow is to get into the thick of the action yourself. You’ll find plenty of examples on sites like inc.com on how you can properly lead by example from now on.
They’re Not Afraid to Try New Things
The difference between you and a true leader is that you’re comfortable in your own ways. You’ve grown accustomed to doing the same things repeatedly, and you know they work well. It’s good to find things that always work – it’s better than doing things that don’t work! However, you miss out on so much when you live in a closed-off little bubble like this. True leaders are revolutionary and will always be looking to adapt and try new things. This lets them get ahead of the herd and be out in front at all times. People look to leaders for guidance and new pieces of advice. You’re not really helping anyone out if you rehash the same principles over and over again. It’s not inspiring either, seeing someone that’s too stubborn to change their ways. When you have a leader that’s not afraid to take risks and try new things, it inspires you to do the same. I think the problem is that people get too comfortable in life and are happy just settling into the same routine and rhythm. There’s a good TEDx Talks video about comfort that I’ll put below this point that explains what I’m trying to say; that comfort isn’t as good a thing as you might think.
They Listen To Others
Being a leader doesn’t mean you should always be the loudest voice in the room. Often, being a great listener is one of the greatest attributes you can have. It goes back to what I said at the start; your title doesn’t make you a great leader. Some people get the title of ‘manager’ or ‘business owner’ and automatically think their word is gospel. They refuse to listen to anyone else, particularly those in lower positions than them. True leaders understand that everyone has a voice. Everyone can come up with important advice or ideas, regardless of where they are in the pecking order. A good leader gives their subordinates the chance to contribute to the conversation and broadcast ideas. Sometimes, they come up with things you’d never have thought of in your life. Personally, I think there’s a lot of egos involved when it comes to some leaders. You don’t like the fact that people below you have an idea that you never thought of. So, you don’t give them the chance to proclaim their ideas, and just constantly make it a one-way street with you doing all the talking. True leaders listen to others, as different ideas can help in so many different ways.
Being a true leader is about so much more than your job title and role. Yes, you can technically be a ‘leader’ if you’re tasked with managing a group of people. However, your actions will determine whether you’re a true leader. I find that most true leaders do everything mentioned above. It sets them apart from the pretenders. If you do all of these things, then congratulations, you’re a true leader too.