Leaders are a very special breed of people. Special in that they recognize the need to constantly work at becoming better leaders. As leaders, they know the way to become better involves a very diverse and broad reaching actions. Actions deliver huge impacts on their growth but also serve as motivating factors for their followers. These unique leaders know that it all begins when they get out from behind their desks and walk the company floor. While out and about their actions and behaviors will be under close observation. They do this because they are leaders worthy of followers. These actions and behaviors will contribute to the continued growth of the leader, her peers, her followers, and all stakeholders.
#1 Leaders Get Out From Behind Their Desks
All Leaders know first hand they cannot lead sitting behind a desk. Leaders must get up from behind their desks and not only walk around their department but also walk the company floor. A leader that wants to become a better leader knows that being visible and available all while ensuring their duties and responsibilities are met are the kind of leaders that will move up in the organization. This does not mean that a leader has to schmooze but it does mean they have to get out and meet people. By meeting people, I mean they have to meet everyone in the organization not only the C-Suite. Being one of those individuals that would rather schmooze the bosses and look down on the receptionist does not even qualify as a bad manager. Don’t do it! If you are currently doing that, just stop! Get back on track and start shaking those hands. Greet people, go to them, do not wait for them to come to you. Smile, Say Hello and most of all, MEAN IT! Do not be like that bad manager and go through the motions. No matter what you do, always make time to get out there, either schedule it or force it but remain consistent. Oh, do not for one second think you can ignore your team. They take their cues from you, so ensure you visit with them as well.
#2 Leaders Say What They Mean and Mean What They Say
Resolving to becoming a better leader means the leader is always changing and evolving. However, not all things need to change only refined. The one thing that can never be changed is the leader’s authenticity, it can only get better through refinement. The leader that never flinches with what they say and what they do is a leader that cannot waiver from his/her duty and responsibility to those she leads. A leader that can be counted on to say what they mean and mean what they say will never be questioned as to their authenticity because their track record is proven. Certainly, I am not saying anything new here. I am, however, reinforcing that through constant growth, development, and refinement of who they are, what they stand for, and how they convey that message to everyone. Leaders may find that it is not easy to sharpen and refine their level of authenticity if they were to sit down and think about how they are going to be better. Sadly, to sharpen and refine means to get up and do. It means to get up off your backside and start doing.
#3 Leaders Value The Opinions of Others, Even If They Do Not Agree With Them
As the world is full of individuals that would rather use their powers for evil or nefarious acts, those that would use their powers for good get cast to the wayside. For those individuals that use their powers for good and are in positions of leadership are the lucky few. They are lucky because using their powers and abilities for good include valuing the opinions of others, especially if they do not agree with them. In this current political climate, there are so many varying views in the home, the work place, social gatherings, you name it. Leaders that value the opinions of others are also rare, few and far between but they are out there. Those leaders that make it a point to hear all sides of the argument are the leaders that will be around for a long time. Why? They respect people. They respect that uniqueness of individuals. They respect people enough to hear them out. This does not mean leaders have to agree with everyone. Remember, leaders cannot be all things to all people. Great Leaders know this as do the people that follow the leader. A Great Leader will have to weigh everything and then act on what is best for the group and sometimes, that is not the popular thing. Even when it is not popular, the one thing that all followers will agree on is that the leader took the time to hear and listen to them.
#4 Leaders Are NOT Quick To Judge
Leaders must never be quick to judge. To be fair and impartial, leaders are always at risk of being considered bias and partial, is not easy. However, a leader that is not biased and is impartial is one that has seen more than his fair share of bias, prejudice, favoritism, and other atrocities. A leader that has experienced that form of nonsense and can come out of it a fair and just individual is a leader worthy of leading and shaping the future of others. These are the leaders that will seek, gather, collect, and assess the information needed to make timely and sound decisions. A leader such as this will intentionally withhold judgment of others, especially when the information provided seems purely one-sided. A leader that has a sense of fair play will advocate for everyone to be heard and understood. Jumping to conclusions or delivering a decision before knowing all there is to know is the fast track to becoming known as unfair and unjust. Once tagged as unfair and unjust the leader might as well turn in his title as leader and consider himself a bad manager at best. This may sound harsh but the reality is there are still many individuals out there that through their own inability to do the right thing will continue to behave in such a manner. However, as a leader that believes in fairness, justice and equity is a leader that is making more leaders to not only become like her but better. Truly that is the leader’s ultimate goal.
#5 Leaders Never Front
Leaders are ORIGINAL. Leaders are UNIQUE. Leaders are ONE IN A MILLION. To be unique, original, and one in a million a leader must never front. Never put up a façade or a false front. Leaders do not have the luxury of fronting. Leader cannot afford to be caught fronting. A leader that fronts will quickly be discovered as a fraud, a fake and once labeled a fake or fraud, a leader almost never recovers. Why is it so difficult for a leader to recover from being labelled or considered a fake or fraud? Time and the Value of time. The time, effort, energy and value given to the leader by her followers. A leader will take her time to gain and maintain the trust of her followers. When that trust is broken then it becomes a deep, emotional loss. This loss is hard to replace. Remember, we are talking about leaders, real leaders, and not managers, especially when there is no love lost between a “micro-manager” and his employees. While it may be tempting for an up and coming leader to play a little “one-up” it is most certainly not beneficial to the career of that leader to even attempt to start or sustain that type of front. A leader, especially one that wants to improve themselves must not fall for the quick hits brought on by fronting but instead will work diligently to be original, unique and someone that will work to improve the trust between him and his followers.
These five things leaders do to become better leaders are just the tip of the iceberg of leadership. To become a better leader, you have to keep trying. You have to find what works for you as an individual. While many will say you have to do this or have to do that to be a great leader. What you have to do is find what works for you, stick to it, then add something else. A true leader will always seek improvement in themselves and in others. A leader that is on her way to become a Great Leader knows that doing what it takes comes with a price. The price is simple; never slack off and always stay on course. Yes, achieving Greatness is that simple. Many do not achieve that greatness because it looks like, feels like, sounds like and tastes like work.
David G. Guerra is a US Army Veteran, Small Business Entrepreneur, and Author (Fiction & Non-Fiction). David served with the US Army Berlin Brigade 110 miles behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War. David also spent 17 years working for the State of Texas in the Information Technology field and successfully earning his Bachelor and Master degree in Business Administration along the way. Working in the private sector has given David the opportunity to write and publish his first two of three books on leadership; “The Walking Leader” and “Great To Follow” and three historical fiction books set in Occupied West Berlin (“Doughboy City”, “Air Bridge Berlin”, “Spandau Guard”, “Parade Season”, & “The Taking of Sergeant Gonzalez”) with more of both genres to come.