“So, who wants to lead today’s project?”
When a teacher asks this to her class a number of things typically happen. Hands may go up ecstatically, while others remain firmly on their desks. Some of the students might even make every possible effort to avoid eye contact with the teacher while others may start screaming Me! Me! Me! for dear life.
Which group did you fall into?
You see, even at a young age we display characteristics that place us into one of two categories. The leaders and the followers. This is not to say that one is better than the other. After all, if not for followers there’d be no need for leaders and vice versa. By the same token, those in the follower category can display leadership qualities but lack the motivation to take charge.
I’m a firm believer that any skill can be taught through hard work and dedication. Obviously, there are freaks of nature that just happen to be naturally great at what they do. This includes those natural leaders who display the charisma, confidence and unique ability to sway anyone to their way of thinking.
Let’s look at Usain Bolt, a natural sprinter who also happens to be the fastest man alive, for example. Assume that Bolt was to stop training for a few years. Another athlete with average ability, by contrast, continues to strive for the world record one step at a time. This athlete not only has twice the determination and work ethic, but with the right training he can surpass even the naturally gifted Usain Bolt.
I say this to say one thing. If you’re asking yourself whether you have leadership qualities or not, the answer doesn’t matter. The real question that you need to be asking yourself is this:
Once you’ve answered that question you can move on to the next question of
“What characteristics do I need to be considered a leader?”
Most Leaders at some point or another have displayed one or more of these characteristics. If you find that you fall into one or more of these categories then you’re already on your way to becoming the leader that you were meant to be. Let’s begin:
1. You seek responsibility. Almost on a subconscious level every leader tends to seek more of this. While the followers are typically content with being general population the leaders aim to leave their mark. If you seek responsibility, you’ll eventually find it along with everything else.
2. You inspire others. Whether it be through charisma, or one’s actions, leaders inspire those around them. By inspiring someone, you as the leader have instilled a sense of purpose in that individuals subconscious. Because of you they want to be better, they want to work harder, they want to succeed.
3. You accept responsibility. Every leader takes responsibility for his or her actions and decisions. They don’t blame others for their shortcomings. The leader accepts his or her mistakes and runs with it. Humility is the true mark of a leader.
4. You act first then ask questions later. Someone once said, “A good plan executed now is better than a perfect plan executed later”. Leaders understand the importance of making timely decisions under stressful conditions. Leaders are people of action. Instead of thinking themselves out of making a decision they take action. This accomplishes two things: the leader is able to learn from any mistakes and two this sets the wheel of change in motion.
5. You’re not afraid of failure. This is perhaps the most important characteristic. Every leader understands that failure is inevitable and that it is an obstacle to be overcome. In fact, failure is the most direct path to growth. By failing, leaders are better poised to share their experiences with others and gain new found knowledge on their particular subject.
If you found that you don’t display all of these characteristics all is not lost. Everyone has the potential to be a leader. At the end of the day it all comes down to how badly do you want it? Likewise, if you found that you have all of these characteristics I challenge you to hone your skills. Use your leadership ability to make a difference in society and unleash your true potential .
Question: What are some of your methods for determining whether or not a person has leadership ability? Which of the categories if any resonated with you? You can leave a comment by using the form below.
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When we think of the name Julius Caesar, we can’t help but to identify it synonymously with the word leadership. Of course, if you have heard anything about Caesar you would know that he was perhaps one of the greatest leaders of all time. This is not to say that he was perfect, especially considering that his life ended quite abruptly. However, there are many lessons to be learned from his extraordinary leadership ability as well as his mistakes.
Julius Caesar was a legendary Army General and Statesman who lived between 100 — 44 B.C. During his tenure, Caesar oversaw the rapid expansion of the Roman Republic through an incessant chain of fierce battles across Europe. This was before he eventually declared himself a dictator for life. Yes you read that correctly. He declared himself a dictator for life.
Consider the following that there are many types of leadership styles. For this article, I will name only a few: Democratic, Authoritative, Paternalistic, Laissez-faire and Transactional. It should go without saying that Julius Caesar practiced the Authoritative leadership style.
This meant that he dictated policies and procedures, decided what goals were to be achieved, and directed and controlled all activities without any meaningful participation from his subordinates. This was perhaps one of the major reasons for his assassination.
He was believed to have died in the hands of his political rivals, on the steps of the Senate, after an illustrious career as a general and a leader. Furthermore, he is still without a doubt one of the greatest and most famous military minds in the history of the world. His leadership style was ideal and proved effective, for the battlefield, as there was no time for hesitation or democracy when lives are at stake.
Caesar fearlessly fought and won several battles, and laid the foundation for one of the greatest empires in the world: The Roman Empire. The first lesson that is to be learned from Caesar is that different subordinates and team members respond differently to various styles of leadership. As an aspiring leader, you must be able to adopt multiple leadership styles if you are to be effective.
Lesson Two: Believe in Yourself
Times have really changed; there are some significant differences in the style of leadership employed during Caesar’s time and the ones practiced today. Nowadays, the world is largely governed through democracy whereby leaders are elected by the people in a free and fair process.
The masses are usually quite informed and know exactly what they want and need. For any leader to be successful in the contemporary world, they must be admirably relentless in their beliefs and ideals, and truly care for the people that they represent.
It is especially relevant and important to understand that pleasing everyone is most certainly impossible. No matter where your journey takes you, there will always be individuals who will oppose your ideals. If you give in to every piece of negativity that comes your way you will never be effective.
Lesson Three: Inspire Others with Vision and Conviction
Caesar was a man of conviction. His ideals and beliefs became law. In those days rather, leaders mostly emerged due to armed conflicts. Around this time, coincidentally, while the weak were cast aside, the strong easily assumed command. The people answered to the leaders, and not the other way around. Throughout, the masses had to do whatever the leaders commanded. In most cases, leadership was primarily focused on self-progression and not on the best interests of the people.
Caesar is believed by contrast, to have been different since he never just thought about himself. As a man of vision, he managed to acquire a lot of power and authority for his nation. As a result, He was and is still considered a hero to date because he revolutionized leadership by making fair policies and laws. This was unheard of in his time. It is such traits that made him stand out among the rest of the leaders of his time and earned him a special position in world history.
Some of the most exceptional leadership qualities that characterized Julius Caesar’s generalship were selflessness, boldness and decisiveness. Critics argue that sometimes, his exceptional boldness bordered a reckless willingness to go way ahead of his supply lines. As a leader, you will find that there will come a time for you to make a risky decision. This decision may or may not impact your whole team, possibly in a negative connotation. For a leader that commands respect and is true to his cause; subordinates will follow him or her through the gates of hell and back without question.
Many have argued that Julius Caesar was a self-seeking and greedy leader whose primary mission was to capture and cling to power. He always fought alongside his men, sometimes without the luxury of using a horse. Caesar never hesitated and always accomplished his intended objective.
His immense confidence formed the basis of his illustrious career. Be confident in your decisions, treat others firmly and fairly and you will be effective as a leader. Don’t be afraid to share the load. Just don’t share the responsibility.
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Being Confident is Simply Controlling Fear
Anyone who has ever faced the prospect of leading a team and being introduced to public speaking may have gone through a spectrum of emotions that ranged from worry to extreme fear. Being given the harness of leadership can be nerve-wrecking as it exposes us to the scrutiny of many. Of course, this tends raise our apprehension levels. It is important to understand that this fear, worry, doubt and anxiety is what the best leaders have used and will continue to use in order to progress.
One of the best examples of this type of leader is Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States. Lincoln was unarguably the walking definition of leadership during his term. However, Honest Abe was not exactly born with the leadership qualities that would later make him one of the greatest leaders of America. He did not have a privileged upbringing and even as a young boy he had to quit school to work to help support his family.
Answering the Call
On top of that, Lincoln was an introvert. He began his career as a laborer, then taught himself to read and write, later becoming a lawyer through self-study. He could have made a decent living as an attorney serving in the countryside but the political chaos and oppression that occurred during his time spurred him to action. The call to become an advocate for the oppressed pushed the introverted Lincoln to learn how to be more confident and take up the cause that would later make him one of the most admired and imitated leaders of all time.
As an adult and working man, Lincoln suffered enough setbacks that would have conquered a lesser man. He lost his job, suffered many defeats and loses, failed in business, lost his sweetheart and reportedly even experienced a nervous breakdown. Through it all, Lincoln persevered and never gave up. In fact, if there was one phrase that would accurately describe Lincoln’s fighting style in life, it would be that he never gave up.
Choose Your words wisely and Inspire Respect
His leadership qualities also became apparent once he entered politics. Lincoln was a reliable man who stood by his word, regardless of how unpopular it made him to people. Lincoln did however decide to quit politics after he made clear his strong opposition to the country’s war with Mexico. He later returned to join the fray once again when the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was passed allowing slavery.
The soft-spoken Lincoln then became an orator, participating in a number of public speaking engagements and debates. This served to further show off his gift for harnessing the power of words. With his quiet confidence and calm demeanor, Lincoln inspired respect among his listeners. He chose his words carefully, speaking slowly but with deliberateness of purpose. Not only did this showed off his intelligence, but also his compassion, empathy and integrity.
Accept Weaknesses and Improve Strengths
The force that was Abraham Lincoln was created not because of formidable vocal power. In fact, he was not even remotely a loud man. His reputation, in fact, was built on the part of his being that inspired trust. Although he rallied behind people, he provided direct management of important matters. Without question he willingly shared blame for failures but also shared credit for successes. Lincoln showed respect, humility and self-awareness through it all. For that, he encouraged firm loyalty among his followers and supporters.
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As a Leader will be obligated to give a presentation or conduct a meeting at one point or another. Without the proper preparation, you could end up not only wasting 45 minutes or more of your time but the valuable time of other attendees as well. Attendees, by the same token, must remain actively involved otherwise they could potentially miss out on important information or topics. I know it seems like a daunting task but don’t worry, with these 6 basic processes that detail How Leaders Conduct Engaging Meetings you’ll be on your way to outstanding productivity and mission accomplishment in no time. Let’s begin:
1. Preparation is key
I’ve said it before in many of my articles, but it is important to every leader that care be taken in this phase as it is the most important. Preparation will make or break the meeting. Clearly define the meeting agenda while outlining objectives:
Set a date and time for the meeting, then provide adequate notice for attendees. Duration of the meeting should typically range from 30 to 40 minutes. This timeline is important because the average adult can only sustain attention on one thing for about 20 minutes at a time. Although, they can choose to refocus on the same thing repeatedly. This gives you about 5 minutes a piece for your opening and closing as well as an extra 10 minutes to keep the group engaged when they start to wonder.
Assign tasks for yourself and participants. Organization and structure will make or break your meeting. It is important for there to be an overall structure for the gathering in order to maintain focus on the objective as well as to make the best use of time.
Limit Attendees. Be sure that only those pertinent to the objective are present. This is to facilitate time management as well as keep topics on the objective. Designate a scribe to take meeting notes and side notes or simply take them yourself. I recommend designating someone as this will allow you to be better focused on the discussion and its general flow.
A little side tip. For video conferences be sure to triple check ALL connections and setup prior to the meeting in order to avoid any delays or downtime.
2. Time is crucial especially for Leaders
You as the Leader or Chair person should arrive at least 5-15 minutes earlier than the allotted time. This is to ensure that participants aren’t waiting on you, the meeting can start on time, and any last minute adjustments can be made if needed.
3. The Leaders opening must grab participant attention
Make valuable use of an attention gainer whether it be through an interesting article, funny story, quick video or any method of engagement. An Article posted by Kevin McSpadden cited the fact that people now generally lose concentration after 8 seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitized lifestyle on the brain. Leaders have 8 seconds to gather everyone’s attention before the meeting even starts. Use use this time wisely.
Thank everyone for attending as well as showing up on time. Not too many people enjoy going to meetings so it is important that you show your appreciation for them taking time out of their schedules.
Identity milestones since last meeting, congratulate key players. As a mental note this serves to show attendees that these meetings serve a purpose and are in fact making a difference. Congratulating key players also improves morale besides everyone appreciates a good pat on the back from time to time.
4. It is important for Leaders to establish the meeting agenda outlining objectives as well as clearly define participant expectations
This is the perfect opportunity to encourage participation as well as respect the opinions of others while they are speaking.
5. Leaders guide the discussion by maintaining a steady flow
It is important that the meeting be consistently focused on the agenda and its objectives. It is equally important that each member provides input and that the focus of the discussion remain on topic.
Focus on the positives during the meeting and address deficiencies offline. This goes without saying but acknowledge the members accomplishments in front of others for that immediate boost in morale and discuss their deficiencies in private.
Create a parking lot for side topics and issues. Occasionally, a member of the group will bring up a topic that is not a part of the agenda. Be sure to take not of what has been addressed in a respectful matter. Then guide the discussion back toward the objectives of the meeting. Otherwise you could end up spending more time on the wrong topic than allotted. Following the meeting, schedule a date and time with the member in order address the concern or issue.
Clearly identify decisions and action steps. Following every topic be sure that the outcome is clearly stated and understood as to avoid confusion. Hold key members accountable for action steps by clearly identifying the members that are suitable for the completion of the assigned task.
As the meeting comes to a close this is the perfect opportunity for a brief recap. Review any decisions that were agreed upon as well as any takeaways and actions steps. Re-identify key members that were designated to accomplish those action steps.
Things to remember:
- Take the extra time to prepare
- Organization and punctuality is paramount
- Remember that YOU’RE the leader of this meeting, be confident when you speak
- Allow for more productivity especially when members are speaking
- Stay focused on goals and objectives while keeping the discussion on topic
- Remember everyone’s view counts
- Don’t forget to take notes
- Always summarize while clearly creating accountability
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