I am not a born leader. I am lazy. I procrastinate. I get frustrated with people. I have self-esteem issues. I lack confidence in social situations. I lose patience with my children. I enjoy praise and recognition. I have trouble making decisions. Relinquishing control gives me heartburn. I make excuses for my bad behavior. Being candid gives me anxiety (hence the sweaty palms as I type this).
In other words, I am human; flawed, imperfect, transient in nature. But that also means that I am both adaptable and self-aware. I can look in the mirror and see my flaws, and I can take positive action towards improving.
Take Heed Unto Thyself
So what does this have to do with leadership? Everything, actually. Would you see a personal trainer who smoked a pack a day and buttered his bacon for breakfast? Would you take your car to a mechanic who never got a driver’s license?
Maybe. But only once. To lead others, you must first become a leader of your own life. It’s great practice for the real thing.
“Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct.”— Dee Hock
Founder and CEO Emeritus, Visa
I have spent one-third of my life thinking about leadership in one way or another. I’m a serious self-help junkie. Of course I started off with many more questions than answers, such as:
- What are the traits of a good leader?
- How can I get more opportunities to step into a leadership role?
- How can I inspire others to achieve their goals?
- How can I apply these leadership principles to be a more effective coworker, husband, father?
- Are leaders born or made? Is there hope for me?
I can answer the last question right now. Yes, there is hope for me, just as there is for you. Everyone has leadership qualities, some lying dormant just waiting to be uncovered and unleashed. But you’ll have to start somewhere, probably at the beginning.
We’ve arrived at the reason I created this blog. I want to share the things I have learned. Some of it has been through hard-fought experience and some ugly crying. The vast majority of it was from someone else who took the time to provide guidance and expert knowledge. I’m not an original thinker, so instead I’d like to aggregate what I learned (and continue to learn) and simmer it down to more bite-sized portions for your enjoyment.
In a future post I’ll collect some of the better ideas and lessons learned regarding leadership into a list of important leadership qualities. Until then, thanks for reading!