Leadership Skills & Origins
Leadership is a skill that is hard to master, many people think that to be a leader all you need to do is be able to order people around. While leadership does involve getting people to do what you want, it isn’t as simple as ordering them around. Even in the military, true leaders do more than just yell at their troops. To learn the skills of leadership, you must first know what it’s like to be a follower.
Being a true leader means that you are committed to personal development. You commit yourself to study and learn in order to be better at what you do. Being a leader does not automatically give you the knowledge or answers to everything. It is important to remember this, because as you move on, there will be many challenges that you will not know how to handle.
If we go back to the dawn of time (and no I’m not taking about the Flintstones) we can see that the human race was primarily governed by the person who wielded the biggest rock. Physical strength was the dominant characteristic in leadership, but that all changed with the advances of communication and technology.
Now, characteristics in a leader consist of attributes such as:
- determination to tackle any task
- the ability to make extemporaneous decisions
- the heart to motivate others
- and most important, the resolve to be accountable to any mistakes they have made
I remember when I started my new show the Entrepreneur Power Hour in the hopes of uniting the worlds entrepreneurs in a fun yet intellectual environment. At first, me and my brother Chris Peeters struggled to get anyone on our show, and we suffered difficulty with starting on time; technology wasn’t our friend either.
In the midst of trial and error, we became determined to make our show great! So we consistently write new material for it every week and start punctually.
Every Saturday, we show up with passion and energy. And with every new show, people are inspired and we always have a great call!
I used to look forward to partying on Friday nights, but not so much anymore; I look forward to the power hour show.
Finally, if something does not work out, or if we experience technological problems on the show, we immediately acknowledge it and move past it no matter what it is – all so that we can make the best experience for out audience.
The beauty of doing Entrepreneur Power Hour is that I have been shown all the characteristics of leadership that have been described above, and it is molding me every day into a leader and trend setter of people of the 21st century. I know in my heart that my leadership skills will grow immensely with this show, and I will become a great public speaker and network marketer in my community!
A true leader is more than just a leader, he is a reflection of his followers. The quote above may seem comical, but it does deal with a real truth. When someone commits to being a leader, there are many people in the background who help. These people are never talked about. It takes a team to make a leader. the realization of this is one step that every leader must undergo. But they need to do more than realize that they receive help. A true leader will give credit where credit is due.
By doing this, the leader not only instills happiness in his people, but also lets them know that their help and opinions matter. If a leader starts hogging all of the glory, those behind him will no longer trust him and will be less likely to help continue the path to success.
Every leader has a team and that team is made up of real people. Every person is different and needs to be treated different. A good leader gets to know those next to him and learns the differences that make his team unique. Once you know what makes your people unique, you level them in their individual roles. If you’re the boss at a pizza shop, you might have someone who is good at baking, someone who is good with customers, and someone who is good at cleaning. Place each one of those people in the position that they are good at; spots that they have advantages in.
While each person is in a spot that they may be good at, as the leader, you should also know how to do each and every one of the jobs you assign to your work team. You are never too high and mighty to take the trash out once in a while. This doesn’t just earn respect from your followers, but it helps you learn about how your team gets things done.
Doing each job helps you know what goes on behind it. And when a problem arises, you will know how to address the issue. It also makes you look competent when asked questions.
There is a mayor in the United States that wants to be viewed as a leader in the go green universe. The mayor publicizes heavily that he takes his bike to and from work or special events. He uses this as a model, and that everyone in his city should follow suit. His idea is good, and at first he did have a bit of a following. But what ended up being the problem, you may ask? In actuality, he would have his security detail drive him a couple blocks from the destination, and then he would take a bike out of the back of his SUV and ride it to the event. This trickery cost him loss of support in the green biking arena.
What can you learn from the story? Besides the fact that the mayor is a total fake, that is. This story is the perfect example of how a person should do as he says. No lying to your followers. Dang it! Not only would someone in that position completely discredit themselves, but from from that point on, the citizens would be entirely skeptical of anything coming from that person’s mouth..
A lot of great leaders have kept what is referred to as an “open door” policy. That means that whenever your door is open, team members are free to approach and ask questions. An open door policy creates transparency in the workplace and allows team members to turn to their leader whenever they need help. Because team members know that they can go to their leader, they are more likely to attempt to do so.
When keeping an open door policy, it is very important that your door is open almost all of the time. When your door closes, it lets people in the workplace know that you are having a private conversation that you don’t want to be heard. This can build anxiety and create rumors. If you have to have a confidential meeting with a team member, try to use a conference room.
Followership (totally a made up word) is often referred to as the other side of leadership, but it’s actually the beginning of leadership. All leaders start out as followers. During the followership phase, leaders learn what it is like to do the job below leadership. It is also where the follower learns from the current leader and gains the skills that they themselves need to in order to lead later on. A follower doesn’t simply keep their head down and do as they are told; a follower contributes to the team and helps to further the team’s goals.
One great skill that new managers are starting to do more often, before they take their position, is to observe the team they will be leading. For example, a manager at a leading electronics company have made legend by walking into their store as a customer, or low level employee, one to two weeks before they were set to start working. The manager then experiences what the current levels of skill and teamwork are at. To some, this may seem like an underhanded move. But the manager is simply trying to see what his team is like before he has a chance to influence their behavior.
However, when doing any such undercover operation, your goal is not to try and get someone in trouble. The end goal is to learn from the experience. This does not mean that you won’t come across an issue that needs to be corrected. Instead of correcting it yourself, tell the current leader to correct it. This way you get to see what authority the current leader holds over the team.
Leadership isn’t all about being serious, though. When you are constantly serious, and you promote an atmosphere where people feel like they are not allowed to laugh, you promote an atmosphere that isn’t natural. People are made to tell jokes and get to know each other. This creates a bond within the team; making it more effective. Finding the perfect mix of socialization and work is key though. If you allow too much socialization, it will get in the way of business.
If you want an example of how humor can be appropriate – even in a serious situation – look at Navy SEALs. Often times Navy, SEALs go into situations that we, as general members of the public, would never even consider going into. Jeff Boss, a former Navy SEAL, says that you just don’t pass up a chance to tell a good joke, even when you are in a firefight. He credits being able to get through BUD/S (Navy SEAL selection) on the fact that he and the other SEALs had a sense of humor.
There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. – Will Rogers
Some people learn different, some people just need to be told the same thing multiple times, and some people just need to fail for themselves. The final thing a leader needs to learn is patience. When you are in a position of leadership, there is a lot of things that you will find yourself waiting on, whether it be those around you, or outside people who you may be looking to use or train with. There are also times where you might have to explain things that seem really obvious to you, but that your team members may not be able to understand.
Many different ways exist to tackle impatience. Don’t be that guy who ends up yelling at someone because the line isn’t moving fast enough. The most recommended way to start learning patience is to identify when you are starting to feel impatient. Once you have identified that you are feeling impatient, examine why. Start to think about how you can transform that impatience into patience. You need to use your own willpower, kind of like in the Matrix or Star Wars. The force is with you.
Becoming a good leader is hard to sum up. There are so many different traits that go into becoming a respected leader that is good at their job. The one thing that must be said, though, is that no leader at any time stops learning. Leadership is a learning game; whether it involves learning about your specific job, or learning about your team, or even learning how to deal with any situation that may arise.
Let us leave you with this last quote.
“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” — Elbert Hubbard