I had watched the trailer and I was SO ready! I love anything that deals with multiple explosions, a high speed chase, and an unpredictable ending. The trailer to the movie looked very promising. As I sat in the theater, my friend and I kept talking about how AMAZING this movie was about to be because the trailer was so rich and enticing. That is, the movie was so rich and enticing until I watched the opening scene and all other preceding scenes. Disappointed was not even the word for the night! I was expecting a great movie due to the amazing details of the trailer and was saddened to be watching something not anywhere near my expectations. Unfortunately, the same can be said about leadership. Just because you have a leadership position or title doesn't mean you're a great leader. Here are a few points that can make the difference between the average leader and a great leader.
Great leaders understand that their followers are golden.
Who are you leading? Who looks up to you? Who is attracted to you? These are people who have chosen to follow you. They are not disposable or individuals to be controlled to carry out your bidding.These are people of great value and importance. Like I stated before, one common misconception that many have is that a title or position validates your leadership. In 5 Levels of Leadership, John Maxwell makes the point of how a leadership position or title does not mean you automatically have influence or sway over people. You earn that influence and show people how you care by investing in them with your time, your words, and your energy. I make myself available to those I mentor by scheduling meetings or conversations to discuss whatever is on their heart. During these meetings, I provide them with my full attention as they are speaking with me by minimizing all distractions. Lastly, I make sure that they know I care and provide them with constant encouragement and praise in moments of mistakes and celebrations.
2. Great leaders love culture.
As a leader, you should carry the culture you want others to emulate. Do you value excellence? Diligence? Do you have zero tolerance for tardiness? In the book, The Culture Engine, Chris Edmonds mentions how before you can look to others, you need to look at yourself. In other words, what values and behaviors will you live by? This book encourages the reader to write a Personal Vision Statement for the values and behaviors that s/he desires to live by. Some items on my statement are works in progress, but I intentionally try my best to adhere to those values. For example, I value having a thriving and intimate relationship with God. Thus, I carve out a specific block in my schedule to worship, pray, and read my Bible. I also carve out other time blocks during the day where I listen to podcast from other churches or read books on various topics. Before you can expect others who follow you to live according to the values and behaviors you esteem, you must first become a living example yourself.
3. Great leaders are teachable and aggressive learners.
To continue to be a great leader, you need to be teachable. You should identify one or two strong leaders who are succeeding in the areas in which you are working on and follow them. The best way to follow someone is in person by building a personal relationship with them. Personally, I look up to my pastors and other senior leaders in my church. I make it my mission to communicate with them on a weekly basis either in person or via the phone. The purpose of following other leaders is to be in pursuit of growing and building yourself up in your field of specialty/leadership. Moreover, you need to be able to receive correction from those you follow. Correction is not always easy to swallow. However, if correction is not followed, your own growth and influence as a leader is at stake! Lastly, you should strive to be an aggressive learner. That is, aggressively going out of your way to learn in areas pertaining to your area of leadership. This can be by reading books, venturing to conferences, listening to podcasts and more! When it comes to my own development, I love listening to Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, and Christine Caine’s Leadership podcasts. I always walk away reflective on how I am doing as a leader and with new ideas that I can implement into my own life. Learning plays a vital role in your life as a leader. The minute you stop learning is the minute you stop growing as a leader.
To conclude, take a look at your own life. Have you been trying to lead just because you have a title? Or have you been earnestly involved in the lives of your followers? By putting these steps into action, you can be on your way to becoming a great leader.