Leadership is not a job title. It may be part of your job title, or you may sit within the ‘leadership team,’ but being given the title of leader does not necessarily mean you possess the skills or even the desire to be a leader. That’s OK too.
Simon Sinek, the great inspirational speaker and author of Start With Why and the genius behind responsible for one of the most successful Ted Talks of all time, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, argues that:
Just like being a parent, not everyone wants to be a parent and not everyone should be a parent. It’s the same with leaders, not everyone wants to be a leader and not everyone should be a leader.
In many cases, being a good leader is down to choice. Leaders make a choice to be better than they were yesterday and improve themselves tomorrow. They are leaders of people, not robots. They understand empathy, compassion, courage, and intuition to ensure that they are making the right choices.
Great leaders fail, the same as everyone else fails, but the difference with their failures is that they recognise the failures, they don’t make excuses or blame others, they take responsibility for their actions, and they use the failure as a springboard to improve and grow.
Learning to lead is different in every situation, there are many brilliant videos and articles online about the key traits of leadership, and it’s well worth doing some reading if you are committed to being a good leader in your situation.
Someone who is serious about taking on a leadership position needs to be willing to learn to inspire rather than bark out orders. Having authority does not make a leader, having followers who are ready, willing, and happy to follow is what makes a great leader.
You must show a commitment to the people around you using excellent communication and integrity, giving everyone the chance to shine in their own way and ensuring that people trust you to come to you with their ideas. Followers of great leaders need to believe that their leader cares personally about them and their well-being.
Without that fundamental basis, there is no way you can be a great leader.
The Alpha and the Beta Model
It’s worth also noting that just because you are aiming to be a good leader in one setting, it doesn’t mean you are going to be a good leader in all settings. This is the argument between the alpha and the beta models of human interaction.
For example, you work in a workplace that manufactures products, you are a fantastic leader in your workplace, your team looks up to you, and you have the skills and experience to know exactly what to do at any given time. When you go home, you take a dance class; you spend your evening listening intently, practising the moves and steps, and believing the teachers have your well-being at heart when they tell you to move in a certain way to avoid injury.
In the second situation, you are a follower. You refer to the teachers of the class who have many more years of skills and experience and who are aiming to get the best results out of you.
In both of these situations, no one is better or worse. We just take the alpha and the beta roles within the social setting. A simpler way to explain this theory is that if you walk into a room and the person you are meeting is a little nervous, you are the alpha. If you walk into a meeting and you are a little nervous about meeting the person opposite you, you’re not the alpha.
A Choice To Be A Great Leader
Being a great leader comes with the downfalls, but it can be incredibly rewarding at the same time.
If you are serious about being a great leader, you will need to begin by doing the following:
- Speaking the truth, even if it’s hard to do and a ‘little white lie’ would be easier
- Care desperately about others around you
- Listen intently
- Take personal responsibility
- Embrace failure as a method of growth
In these uncertain times, leading remotely is very pertinent. So here’s how to effectively display virtual team leadership is very pertinent.