I recently attended a one-day leadership conference with a focus on how taking care of yourself could be the key to being an effective leader. The speakers discussed how to handle stress, the importance of rest and exercise, and how your personal life could affect your work life. In my opinion, information that’s vital to maintaining a good, healthy work/home relationship. What impressed me most about the conference wasn’t necessarily the topics, but how many people were interested in this information and willing to put in the time and effort to improve their leadership abilities. The conference was streaming live nationwide, as well as in several countries.
As a leader in my organization, I’ll admit that being in charge is not always easy. There is a lot of stress that comes with achieving the goals set by your organization. Since everyone learns and understands differently, many times you have to alter your leadership style to fit the situation and/or individual. Though I cannot say I’m an expert when it comes to leading, I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of teams that have had outstanding leaders. Even though I did not always agree with them, I can say that I’ve had success because of the things I’ve learned from them. In thinking back to those leaders, they all seem to have three similar qualities that make them successful.
The first characteristic is a clear goal and vision. Simply understanding what the goal is does not necessarily make you a leader. The key to good leadership is having a vision to achieve whatever challenge is placed before you. Effective leaders know how to evaluate their resources (people, technology, etc.) and determine how to formulate a plan to achieve their goals.
The second characteristic is that they understand the importance of working as a team. Good leaders know they cannot achieve their goals without the help of those around them and by motivating their team to succeed. They acknowledge that by leading successful people, they themselves become successful. They seek out individuals who are goal oriented and strive for excellence in everything they do. But they also recognize that no one is perfect so they strive to maintain a low pressure environment because they have learned that individuals work best when they are not under stress. They are open to ideas regardless of who has it and encourage collaborative decision making.
The third characteristic is that they are human. Everyone makes mistakes and not all decisions are good decisions. Too often, leaders feel that making a mistake or not knowing all the answers will make them come across as ineffective. Therefore, a successful leader should be humble enough to admit when something went wrong, they do not know everything, and that they are also imperfect. In doing so, they make themselves more approachable and give an opportunity for their team to participate in the decision-making process and share in team success.
Leadership is not a perfect science. Leaders become successful by constantly learning from their mistakes and continuously striving to be effective in their organization. They are able to adapt to their environment and strive to achieve goals while inspiring others to do the same.
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