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How to Become an Ideal Leader

Layne McDonald. Ph.D.

It's fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. - Bill Gates

When you work, do you get frustrated because things do not seem to be happening as they should be? You see people milling around, but nothing gets accomplished. And in the daily hustle and bustle, do you feel that your goals still are dreams? Then maybe it is time for you to stand up and do something about it.

Most people are content to stand around listening for orders. And it is not unusual to adopt a follow-the-leader mentality. But, somewhere inside you, you feel the desire to make things happen to be the head, not the tail. Then maybe leadership suits you fine.

People believe that great leaders are made, not born. Yes, it may be true that people are born with natural talents. However, leadership cannot develop properly without practice, drive, enthusiasm, and experience.

It would help if you remembered good leaders continually working and studying to improve their natural skills. This takes a commitment to enhancing whatever a person chooses constantly.

First of all, let us define leadership. To be a leader, one must be able to influence others to conduct a goal or an aim. They contribute to the organization and cohesion of a group.

Contrary to what most people believe, leadership is not about power. It is not about harassing people or driving them using fear. It is about encouraging others towards the goal of the organization. It puts everyone on the same page and helps them see the organization's big picture. You must be a leader, not a boss.

First of all, you must get people to follow you. How is this accomplished?

People follow others when they see a clear sense of purpose. People will only follow you if they see that you know where you are going. Remember that bumper sticker? The one that says: "Do not follow me; I am lost too"? The same holds for leadership: People will not follow you if you do not know where you are headed.

You must know the vision of the organization. Having a clear sense of hierarchy, knowing who the bosses are, whom to talk to, the organization's goals and aims, and how the organization works are the only way to show others you know what you are doing.

Being a leader is not about what you make others do. It is about who you are, what you know, and what you do. You reflect on what your subordinates must be.

Studies have shown that one other base of good leadership is your subordinates' trust and confidence in you. They will go through hell and high water for you and the organization if they trust you.

Trust and confidence are built on good relationships, trustworthiness, and high ethics.

How you deal with your people and the relationships you build will lay the foundation for the strength of your group. The stronger your relationship, the stronger their trust and confidence are in your capabilities.

Once you have their trust and confidence, you may communicate the goals and aims you are to undertake.

Communication is an essential key to good leadership. Without this, you cannot be a good leader. The knowledge and technical ability you have must be imparted to other people. 

Also, you cannot be a good leader without good judgment. You must be able to assess situations, weigh the pros and cons of any decision, and actively seek out a solution.

It is this judgment that your subordinates will come to rely upon. Therefore, good decision-making is vital to the success of your organization.

Leaders are not do-it-all heroes. You should not claim to know everything, and you should not rely upon your skills alone.

You should recognize and take advantage of your subordinates' skills and talents. Only when you come to this realization will you be able to work as one cohesive unit.

Remember being a leader takes a good deal of work and time. It is not learned overnight. Remember, also, that it is not about just you. It is about you and the people around you.

So, do you have the drive and the desire to serve needed by leaders? Do you have the desire to collaborate cooperatively with other people? Then start now. Take your stand and be a leader today.

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