How will you know that you are already talking to a leader? How will you spot one yourself? How will you describe a leader? When you see a leader what word do you think about? What does a leader looks like? These are questions that make us think about the exact picture of a leader.
Recently, I gave a talk about leadership principles with the Filipino community organizations in Kuwait. I drew a picture in the minds of the attendees what a leader looks like when they see one. This includes the characteristics and qualities of a leader. I got the concept from one of my leadership heroes, John C. Maxwell.
I defined the word LEADER to form an illustration of a leader. I described the word letter by letter to give them a feel on what a leader looks like.
Whenever I see a leader, I think of the word…
1. Leader – When you see one or group of people following somebody, that person is a leader. Regardless of title in the organization, leadership is all about influence. One of the misconception about leadership is that it is rare skill. Some even think that leaders are born (of course, they are). All about the aspects of leadership can be learned. Unfortunately in school, leadership is rarely thought. In my university days, I never heard of a class called Leadership 101. Leadership can be seen regardless of your position in the organization or community. You can lead even without a title.
2. Equipper – A leader should be capable to equip others. If you want to be a true leader, the very first thing you need to do is to develop yourself. Read books about leadership and look for mentors that can help you. You also need to lead yourself. You cannot lead others if you cannot lead yourself. After this, now you can develop others as well. Be a mentor to someone so that you can lead others. Then, you can lead others to develop others. One of the aspect of a good leadership is learning to teach others to lead others.
3. Attitude – “Your attitude will determine your altitude”. It is a famous quote for describing the character of a person. A positive attitude is a must if you want to lead successfully. A positive attitude is like a magnifying glass that focuses on the opportunities rather than the obstacles even in challenging times.
4. Dreamer – People buy into the leader first before they buy into the vision. The leader should show genuine care for others before they contribute to the vision. Unfortunately, some leaders provide the vision expecting that it is sufficient and without understanding that it needs support. The leader will determine the credibility of the vision and will only be accepted depending on the timing of presenting it to the people. It will only be successful when the whole group has ownership and committed to go to that direction.
4. Excellence – When was the last time that you give more than what is expected of you? To excel on something a leader should give an extra mile, provide the extra hours of hard work, give more effort than expected. I remember the story of Rebekah in the Bible in the Book of Genesis Chapter 24. When the servant was looking for a wife for his master, Isaac; he stopped and take rest near a well. A young lady named Rebekah went out to fetch some water and give the servant a drink. What fascinates me is that she even give water for the ten camels that the servant have. Just imagine how many liters one camel can drink. Because of her extra effort, she got her greatest reward; to be a wife of a wealthy man, Isaac.
In today’s mindset, we give minimum effort and hoping for maximum expectation. This concept will soon to fail. Instead, we should follow Rebekah’s principle which is giving maximum effort for minimum expectation. With this, you will get your own Isaac.
5. Relationship – People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. As a leader, you can develop firm relationship by helping others become useful and find satisfaction and significance. Have a culture of building relationships through regular meeting sessions just to bond with each other. In my IMG family in Kuwait, we have a bonding activity at least twice a year to instill camaraderie and invest in our relationships.
Now, do you see yourself as a leader within this context? If not, it’s not too late to change. Good news about this, these all can be learned. If yes, there is always room for improvement. Leadership is a continuous learning process. There is always a space to grow. Live, Love, Lead.