Leadership can be developed with a few key attributes
By Dagan Sharpe
There is no doubt that the lack of quality leadership today is rampant. In fact, one of the primary indicators to a business’ long-term success, employee engagement, community prosperity and strong family ties is leadership. Which begs the question, if leadership is so vital to positive outcomes, why does there seem to be a deficit of quality leaders?
As I look back over my career, I have had the good fortune of having many different leaders, both good and bad, and to be honest, I learned much from them all. Personally, I would never claim to have arrived at the pinnacle of leadership greatness, nor do I claim to have all the answers, but I definitely know I have a strong desire to consistently improve. My guess is many feel the same.
To help in this worthy pursuit, outlined below are some of the key attributes impactful leaders possess – and they are all thankfully skills any of us can develop.
Leaders are Influential. What type of influence do we make, or do others make on us? It is either a positive, neutral or negative impact. There are no other options.
John Maxwell, an expert on the subject of leadership, makes a powerful statement when he says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” All we have to do to see the validity of this truth is to look around – is there chaos and breakdown in our homes, jobs and community, or unity and progress? Whatever we observe, we must then look at the type of influence we are having on the situation and adjust accordingly.
For example, if we have disgruntled teams and families, consider how we can better influence that particular situation. It won’t necessarily be easy and may most likely require sacrifice and commitment, but making a positive impact always does. It’s the neutral and negative impact that comes easy.
Leaders are Relational. In order to have influence, however, we must have built relationships. Good leaders are relational leaders. They get involved, are committed and care to know the people around them.
They aren’t the dictators that stand alone, bark orders and never interact or get involved with others. Quite the opposite. They care, and they seek to discover the strengths in others, develop them and deploy them to support multiplying their impact. In the end, great leaders seek to multiply great leaders. Therefore, we consider how we willingly invest our time with others to improve how we and they are making impact as leaders in our homes, at work and in our communities.
Leaders are Developmental. As mentioned, once we have relationships established, we are in stronger positions to help develop others. To highlight this point, I once had an executive coach assigned to me, an experience I’m grateful for today but back then it was quite annoying because she kept reminding me about all I did wrong.
One of the most memorable insights she shared was to stop working so much on my weak areas and begin focusing more on my strengths. This was hard to do because I felt to get better I had to work on my weaknesses, but her wisdom revealed that those efforts took too much of my time and only served to discourage and exhaust me. Instead, focusing on my strengths resulted in better results in less time and left me feeling motivated and encouraged because I was seeing success and using my gifts.
It was a light bulb moment we can all apply – focus on developing our strengths and the strengths of others. This does not mean we neglect weaknesses completely, but by intentionally focusing on strengths has a much greater return and impact.
Now imagine our churches, our homes, our communities and our businesses filled with people selflessly seeking to build meaningful relationships with others, proactively striving to build upon each other’s strengths and seeking to propel positive influences. The impact would be staggering.
Thankfully, the good news is this is happening, but the better news is we can all join the movement and be among those who truly care to “lead” a legacy.