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Grow Your Influence

CAN YOU BE A GOOD LEADER? What is leadership? There are many definitions. “Leadership is influence.” “Leadership is helping people discover where they want to go and helping the get there.” A simple definition is that leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal.To be a leader, a person must be prepared to inspire others, to motivate them, and to actually get that job done. One can have great ideas and great capacity, but unless those can be effectively communicated in a way that inspires others to cooperative action, one has not led. This requires a combination of personality, people skills, and personal self-leadership that makes others willing to follow his or her direction.Much research has studied whether leaders are born or made. Psychology Today combined the research and says that leadership is about 1/3 innate, and 2/3’s made, which means that the average person can develop very good, even great, leadership. .Steve Jobs is a classic example of someone who was probably not born to be a leader. His story is legendary for his firings and rehirings. According to some ex-employees of Apple and NeXT, he was intolerant of anything he viewed as failure and his foul-mouthed tantrums at employees, vendors, and even clients are legendary. In his brutal frankness, he gave little praise and considered others’ feelings irrelevant. However, those who knew him well say that as he matured his management style began to shift and he began to alleviate some of his more negative traits and have more empathy for others, realizing that people had limits. As he died, he left a very positive leadership model. He said, “I want to put a ding in the universe:, and he clearly did that. He fulfilled what mattered most to him: "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something. We can grow personally as leaders and do that as well. Here are 5 ways you can communicate more effectively, and be a leader of influence. Trust:Trust means understanding how your volunteers/teams think and what actually matters to them.“When your team trusts you as a leader, it increases commitment to team goals. Communication improves and ideas flow more freely, increasing creativity and productivity.” Heidi Grant HalvorsonDefine yourself by what your intentions are for others. Are you as a leader being trustworthy?Are you acting on your promises? Are you finding avenues to build trust in ways that your employees can see and experience? Action:Leadership means actually acting on what you say you’re going to do. However, that doesn’t mean actually doing it yourself. Don’t allow all the things you have to do as a leader bottleneck the process. The trust you have with your team will allow you to share the load, the responsibility, and actually get things done. They will love and respect you for it. Perspective:You have your own perspective, which helps you set a vision and develop a plan to get there. However, more challenging is the ability to incorporate other perspectives into the mix. You absolutely must ascertain you know what each person on your team is thinking, what motivates them, and what they want to see happen. You will get diversity, ownership, and a pool of great ideas. Focus:Leaders are motivated and see the big picture. That means it is very easy to engage around every single thing that is happening. That actually dilutes influence. Truly great leaders dig down and get focused. They work on strategy to implement the ideas and initiatives. They don’t do the work of each one. They know what is most important at a given time, and commit to that. Vision:The importance of vision can’t be over-stated. The leader has to see it before it can happen. Leadership is inspiring and motivating people to often do incredibly hard things. They have to buy into a big vision, a big picture of why this needs to happen, and why it is worth it. All of these areas require continual growth. Utilize mentors and coaches who will help you grow and develop into the kind of leader you want to be. John C. Maxwell, Author and Leadership Guru, in his book, The 360 Degree Leader, references an informal poll he took at his conferences to find out how people came to be leaders, when he says: “I asked if they became leaders (a) because they were given a position; (b) because there was a crisis in the organization; or (c) because they had been mentored. More than 80 percent indicated that they were leaders because someone had mentored them in leadership, and had taken them through the process.” You can do this. The world needs your leadership.

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