All of us will have times in our life when we are required to lead or champion a cause. Knowing and applying the ten practices below will assist you greatly in that challenge when it comes. Interestingly enough, not only do these practices work in leading others, but they also apply in pursuing our own goals as well. Next month I will take these same principles and show you how we can apply them in our individual lives, but for this month read and absorb these time-tested and proven practices of success in a leadership role.
1. Have a large vision:
People want to be part of an organization or group that has an exciting positive vision for change. Small visions attract a small response. Large visions attract large numbers. Whatever your vision for change or growth may be, you must articulate it well and be clear on the process of attaining that vision, but most importantly it must be a vision that can inspire.
2. Break the large vision into easily understood goals with deadlines:
As the old saying goes, “The journey of one hundred miles begins with the first step.” A large vision will inspire people, but unless there is a plan to achieve the vision, the inspiration and excitement will soon dissipate. Completion of a large vision happens by accomplishing numerous smaller goals. Each goal and step builds on the one preceding it. Have a clear and workable plan that everyone can understand.
Become goal oriented. It is through the accomplishment of thousands of smaller goals that the final accomplishment is achieved. Ask yourself, “What can I do today?” and then do it. The next day ask yourself again, “What can I do today?” and then do it. The same the day after. Focusing on what can be done today and accomplishing that is one of the secrets of success.
4. Love the process, not just the final result:
As the mystic Gurdjieff said, “Don’t think of results, just do.” Live life one day at a time. Life is a journey, not a destination. Each day enjoy the process of the people you meet, the challenges, the surprises, the victories and yes, the failures too, for they also teach us. When you dedicate yourself not just to the end result but to the process, good fortune and synchronicity come to your aid. When you can embrace the process as a means and end unto itself, and appreciate the process as a journey within the journey to be mastered and enjoyed and appreciated, you will be in harmony with the deeper currents of life.
5. Ask for and expect others to help you:
If you are dedicated to your vision and you believe that the accomplishment of this vision will help many, you can expect others to become enthused as well, and want to help you. This is not to say that every single person you meet and share your vision with will want to help. Some will be too busy or committed to other projects. Others may disagree or argue with your vision, as is their right. However the law of averages works in such a way that if you ask many to help, some will respond. Carry no animosity or ill will towards those who do not share your vision, but embrace and work closely with those who do. These people will help you immensely. A group of individuals committed to a shared vision can accomplish the impossible. It is these people that you are destined to be with, learn from, and work with. Fortune favours the bold, and unless you share your vision, how will others know of it?
6. Leaders see more in others than others see in themselves:
Most of us are in many ways our own greatest enemy. It is a very common human trait to feel unworthy and to put ourselves down. Often latent talents never get noticed. A successful leader will always bring out the best in people. He/she will encourage people to live up to their potentials, and praise them when they do. Encouragement, praise and recognition on a regular basis will inspire those that you work with. Successful leaders understand this and spend time developing the talents of others. Leadership is not only in harnessing others to achieve a vision, but in changing and empowering every person it is your privilege to come in contact with.
7. Leadership is service:
Service to a vision. Service to others. Service to a greater good. Always lead with humility and respect for the position you find yourself in. Never be arrogant or full of ego. Leadership is about stewardship and you are simply a steward of the vision. Serve it well. A leader must also anticipate chaos and be prepared to work through temporary failure and disappointment. Numerous challenges and tests go with the territory of leadership, so do not let them surprise you or throw you off course when they inevitably happen.
8. Your ability to serve others starts with mastering yourself:
Successful leaders have spent much time developing the character traits and working habits that are necessary for success. You must learn to be a good follower before you become a leader. You must know how to overcome procrastination and inertia. How to set goals and achieve them. How to be honest, creative, intuitive, How to manage both the micro and macro situations. You must know how to listen, how to inspire, how to bring the best out of others and yourself. Understanding that personal growth never stops, a good leader will never stop working on him/herself. In a leadership role, you must expect twice as much from yourself as you expect from others.
9. Realize that we live in a real world, not an ideal one:
Allow for the fact that we live in an imperfect world. Your vision must allow for this. Nothing is one hundred percent black or white. Trying to change everyone and everything is unrealistic. Your vision must inspire and be a great vision, but not an unrealistic, impossible vision. Do the greatest good you can and make a difference to the world by achieving that which is possible.
10. Have fun and celebrate your successes regularly:
Do not become so serious and fixated upon your goal and vision that you lose the spontaneity of fun and joy. The joyful path is more effective than the fanatical one. Joy, compassion, love, empathy, fun and success all go hand in hand with one another. Enjoy each day amidst the busyness, and remember to celebrate each victory and success no matter how small. A joyful atmosphere will attract more people and be more productive. Look for ways to celebrate success and improvement wherever you find it.