Life Lessons on Leadership
The following is not a set of “Leadership Principles” or “Laws of Leadership” that have guided my life. Rather, I have tried to be me, but these area few of life’s lessons I have observed.
- I read once “Leadership is the gift given to you by those who follow.” I have always tried to remember that people are not forced to follow you, and if they feel forced, you will never get their best efforts or have their respect. Some people try to lead by intimidation, but it is never successful in the long term. You can receive an appointment or be elected to a position, but that does not make you a leader. It gives you the opportunity to prove yourself and that you are worthy of that trust. When you take a position, there may be people already in place who know more about the organization or operation you are leading that you do, but if you keep the right attitude, recognize their knowledge and ability, give them the credit they deserve, and show them by your hard work that you are going to do all you can to see that this cause is a success, they will respect you and work hard to help you succeed. If you must remind them of who you are and the position of authority you hold in order for them to do as you want, they may carry out your orders, but you are not their leader.
- General Douglas MacArthur once said, “I refused to lead from the rear.” This is good advice, as the leader needs to be involved in all of the activities and not just sitting around giving orders. He cannot be “too good” or above what he is asking his people to do. He needs to join in and help see that the job is completed. As you grow in responsibility, delegating is often necessary, but you cannot delegate and then disappear from the scene, always allowing others to do all of the work. When you lead from the front, those following will appreciate you more and work harder to make the project succeed.
- Develop an open communication this those under you. Let them know you are approachable and that you care. If you do not do this, they will recognize it, and quietly stand by, allowing you to do what you want, even if it is a mistake. But if they know their opinion is important to you, they will share it, giving you information from another perspective. Then you can be the judge of what is best. It may keep you from some errors or allow you to adjust your plans to make them more practical. It is also important that you communicate your vision, so that they know what you expect in advance. Then make progress reports to your people, especially good reports, which will keep their enthusiasm high and make them all want to do even better.
- President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk saying, “The Buck Stops Here”. The leader must realize that he or she is ultimately responsible and must make the hard choices, then take responsibility for the results. It is more enjoyable to do nice things for those under you, but it is more important that you do those things necessary for the cause to be successful. When you make a mistake, be big enough to admit it and ask for their help. They will forgive you and work even harder to help correct the problems and reach for the goal.
- It is important that the leader be fair to tall. Treat everyone with respect and administer the guidelines or rules fairly. Do not have one set of rules for yourself and another set for everyone else. If you do, those under you will recognize it, discuss it, and resent it. It will cause dissention among those you are leading, which will keep them from doing their best and distract them for your goals.
- There are many Christian and personal characteristics that we all need to exhibit, and it will help any leader.
- Honesty – They know they can always trust your word.
- Dependable – They can count of you to be there and to back up what you have told them.
- Perseverance – You will not let disappointments or obstacles prevent you from accomplishing your goals.
- Understanding – You are aware of their circumstances and are willing to adjust to accommodate their needs, too.
- Kindness – “Be ye kind one to the other…” (Ephesians 4:2)
- Integrity – You holding to your values.
- Trust – You believe in your team and trust their judgment.
by Marvin Curry