How to be a Leader that People Choose to Follow
Regardless of the type of work you do and who is (or isn’t) on your team, the job of being a leader starts with you.
This is why you should invest time to evaluate how well you are doing at the job of leading yourself and leading others. And, of equal importance, evaluating why you are choosing to lead in the first place.
Best selling author, Jim Collins, said, “One of the most important variables in whether an enterprise remains great lies in a simple question: what is the truth about the inner motivations, character, and ambition of those who hold power?”
Whether you realize it or not, you hold power.
You can be the pivot point between the past and the future for your group, team, or organization. It doesn’t matter if you are the most senior leader in the enterprise or the newest entry-level person: regardless of your position, you can choose to lead out and help create the future, or you can let the opportunity pass.
The real question is what are your inner motivations, character, and ambition?
If you start with your mindset about leading and take a hard look at how you’re are behaving, you can’t help but become a leader. Focus on creating habits of effective leadership.
The most effective habits are a matter of character: they come from the inside out, which means you can’t fake them on the surface. You can’t pretend to be proactive or mission-driven or empathic with other people—others will spot your inconsistencies in a heartbeat.
Here are a few questions to ponder as yourreflect on yourself:
- What motivates you to choose to lead?
- Is your answer to the above question solely rooted in what you want for yourself or do your desires include what you hope to help others to achieve in their work and lives?
- How clear are other people on your intentions as a leader? How do you know? When was the last time you shared your intentions with others?
- Have you formed habits that will help you become the leader you want to be? What habits do you need to unlearn? Which ones do you need to embrace?
I wish you all the best as you strive to become and remain a leader that others choose to follow.
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Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.