The best leaders are those people who have learned to be a good follower first. In fact, first, they learn to be a leader of themselves. We all started out as followers. We followed our parents and copied what they did. Then we followed our siblings, then others, learning what to do and what not to do.
One day, we decided that we could do something different. That is the point where we became a leader in our lives. We developed the courage to try something new. Enthusiastically we ventured out into what we thought was new territory. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. When it worked, we got all excited and shared our enthusiasm with others.
A good leader sets the example because they know their responsibilities and the benefits of fulfilling their part. That is also the way you describe a good follower. Leaders and followers are life-long learners who also seek to serve. They learn emotional awareness and can apply what they learn in every situation to create a quality experience.
I watched my granddaughter test me as she threw food on the floor. I could see in her one-year-old eyes the question, “Who’s the boss here?” Rather than getting into a power struggle with a one-year-old, I needed to find a way to lead her in a direction that made giving me her food, rather than throwing it on the floor, a more positive experience. I won’t go through the whole process, but I do want you to know that to lead others; you have to be willing to engage your creative side and be consistent.
“Leadership is all about having strong conviction and confidence in your own self, your ideas, and your passion.” ~Barve
Yes, my conviction and confidence as a passionate and loving grandmother taught my granddaughter to hand me her food, instead of throwing it on the ground. She also learned to crawl backward down the stairs, even though she preferred to go face-first and hurt herself. It took time, patience and consistency, but we achieved success!
First, Be Your Own Leader
Former US Navy Admiral, William McRaven, said that he conquers his day with one small task in the morning.
He makes his bed every day.
McRaven continues by saying that making your bed gives you a sense of pride. Even if the whole day goes wrong, he can come home and see that he accomplished one good thing as he looks at his neatly made bed. That’s being a leader in your own life.
This concept is no surprise to me, but if you are not a leader in accomplishing the small goals, like making your bed and brushing your teeth, how are you ever going to create the life that you want?
I have a list of things that I want to do every day. It is my well-being checklist. There are areas in my life that I want to improve, so I look at this little list every day and work to develop habits that will support my sense of well-being. This tool creates more awareness in the areas that I would like to improve. Many times we don’t even notice where we can enhance our private life until we take a look at our habits. Taking care of our foundational activities give us confidence and courage.
Look for High-Quality Role Models
There are many great stories of leaders and how they lead, save lives or even change their world and the world of others.
Chesley Sullenberger calmly saved 155 lives as he landed a passenger airplane safely in the Hudson River. He says it was the ‘worst sickening, pit-of-your-stomach, falling-through-the-floor feeling’ he had ever experienced. How did he know what to do? Practice, daily practice. He knew what to do because he practiced thousands of landings.
Tim Ferris says that to be a leader, you must be able to focus. When you have a clear vision, then your ability to show the way, even by your example, becomes a top priority.
“To be a good leader, you cannot major in minor things.” ~Ferris
An outstanding quality to look for in seeking a good role model is a person who has integrity. As you learn to develop your integrity by aligning your actions with your words, you will attract the same kind of people. Quality leaders and role models will not react from the need to be right. Instead, they focus on doing the right thing. Focus on being authentic, and you will learn quickly from your mistakes, turning them into your strengths.
Discover What Inspires You
Hope is the tincture that inspires all leaders. They have a vision that drives them forward, creating a better world in their wake. For some of us, it is a song that you sing or play with enthusiasm. For others, it is a passion to do something bigger, better and more fabulous than has been done before.
It is inevitable that we are going to find ourselves in some tough situations and unexpected failures, making some unethical enemies along the way. As you face your worst-case scenarios and learn to regulate your unhelpful and instinctual responses, you will discover an energy source that motivates and inspires you for the rest of your life.
Jerry Bloom said, “Learn from others, read autobiographies of your favorite leaders, pick up skills along the way… but never lose your authentic voice, opinions and, ultimately, how you make decisions.”
Become a great leader by succeeding in your daily, basic tasks that bring a sense of personal pride. Emulate others who have gone before and become great leaders themselves. Allow them to inspire you to reach higher ground. Discover what brings light into your soul and gives purpose to your life and the lives of others around you.