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Can You Be a Great Leader?

May 31, 2013

Donald Trump recently told Fox News that America is desperate for leadership. I say, "Donald, that is ridiculous; most of America actually despises leadership and only looks for others to lead because they refuse to." I am personally done looking for others to provide me or my family with leadership. I need to be the leadership I look for in others. Like it or not you are a leader and you have the ability to be a GREAT leader. No matter who you are, what position you hold at your company or how old you are, you have the potential to be a GREAT leader. I watch my four year old daughter lead me all the time and I know your kids do the same to you. She takes me by the hand and leads me. She communicates clearly what she wants and then takes immediate action to make sure I do what she wanted me to do. Unlike other leaders, she is not interested in being liked at that moment, or getting my buy in, or my opinion. Nor does she concern herself with my emotional state or even what I am doing in the moment - she leads clearly and effectively. You see, the child and the great leaders have not been negatively impacted by all the psycho-babble garbage that has infiltrated our culture and management and now has everyone looking for leadership rather than providing leadership. Harvard Business Review recently did a survey of 51,000 leaders and found that if you weren't likable you only had a 1/2000 chance of being considered a good leader. Here is the deal - great leaders don't care if they are likable; they lead! If you are trying to be likable then you are actually being influenced by others and not leading. You only have to look to Congress, Senate and to POTUS to see men and women more interested in surveys than in leadership. Practicing Great Leadership requires that you:
  1. take the lead
  2. communicate clearly what you want
  3. make decisions
  4. be consistent
  5. tackle problems head on
  6. be positive
Most people have been made to believe that someone else is supposed to lead and then spend their time criticizing their boss, manager or the politicians. Remember you are leading in your life and you are a leader - the question is where are you going and who is following you? When I was broke, reckless, undisciplined and unemployed I was leading and others followed me. The problem was I was denying that I was a leader. We all are! The question is not whether you are a leader or not but when you will decide to start operating like a great leader in all your activities and life. If you are disappointed with the leadership you see in the world today or even at your office, maybe it's time to quit criticizing and start setting the example. 1. Take the Lead. Really get it that you are a leader and you aren't running in a popularity contest. If you are already in a leadership position give up on this idea that you need people to love you, 'buy into' your ideas or that everyone is entitled to input. These are not the ideas of great leaders but the trait of the mediocre and is the reason why you see companies fail and governments paralyzed. 2. Communicate Clearly. Let everyone know what you want done exactly, precisely and clearly. "This is what we are doing and we have until the 30th to get it done!" No excuse, no justification. Figure it out and get it done and then get the right people with the right attitude and provide them with whatever tools they need to get the job done. 3. Make Decisions. Quit saying things like 'let me think about it' or 'sleep on it.' Make a decision and do something. It is killing your ability to put things off. Making any decision is better than making none. 4. Be Consistent. Use discipline to operate at an expected level each day so others can start to trust you. If you are a raving maniac then do it consistently until all are able to know what you stand for. 5. Tackle Problems head on. Problems define leaders. Use problems to define yourself and don't wait for the big hero-making moments. Practice on all the little challenges of the day to start building your leadership skills by taking on the problems other refuse to confront. 6. Be positive. When the rest of the world is dark and hopeless, be the shining light. This is an easy way to shine and show your leadership. And trust me it is much harder than it sounds, as I am sure you know. Managing life and career and all its challenges can really push this skill. Regardless of your position, decide to be a great leader today. Others will follow you. A great man said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” (Ghandi) That’s leadership. You are a leader. You already have a following. Where are you leading them? In my book Sell or Be Sold, I give you the principles to follow in order to be a leader in your relationship, your family, your career and to create a great life. Be a great example and a great leader.

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