As we enter the New Year, it’s always good to reflect upon how we lead, if we really do lead, and what influences us to follow others.
We can all be leaders and influence others. A formal title does not guarantee that anyone will have willing followers. As I read what others have to say on this topic many interesting ideas have been proposed. I’ll share a few that were worthwhile to me.
Dr. Travis Bradbury wrote an article “What Makes a Leader?” referencing a quote from John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” This seems like a good test to determine leadership effectiveness. Bradbury later clarifies what leadership is not and points out that “You can be a leader in your workplace, your neighborhood, or your family, all without having a title.” He also outlines that leadership and management are not synonymous. Managers spend most of their time managing things; leaders lead people. He states: “Leadership is a process of social influence which maximizes the efforts of others toward the achievement of a greater good.”
Another good article that really simplifies things is “The Single Leadership Trait That Adds the Most Value to Companies,” written by Aaron Webber. While it may seem a bit simplistic, I thought his ideas had merit. He proposes that “The single most important leadership attribute is constancy, or consistency.” It makes a bit more sense when he explains, “Being consistent in terms of who you are and the theme of principal-based direction you provide is absolutely critical to leadership, or else people will disengage.” He continues, “People need to be able to count on who you are and the principles you are driven by.”
Finally, I’d like to share some thoughts from Lolly Daskal’s blog post “Become the Leader Worth Following.” Daskal proposes that, “Examples of leaders are everywhere. Many are powerful, many are popular, but few are worthy of being followed … They are the people we count on. They are the ones we want to follow without being told.” She concludes with this: “Leadership is a privilege, and making yourself worthy of being followed comes with great responsibility.”
I hope that in 2016 we will all be more introspective and ask ourselves if our actions are inspiring people to become more. Can they count on us? And are we worthy of being followed?