“Leadership” takes on a lot of different hues depending on the person delivering it. Just like any service, the past development, education, social environment, and experiences of the person combine to provide a brand of leadership specific to an individual. With so much variance in the world you’d think that there might be too much at play to draw conclusions on what makes an effective leader. If you think that, you’re wrong.
There are specific reasons why some leaders are always effective.
You Have to Maintain Personal Momentum
The reasons in a moment, but let’s talk about personal momentum first. This is the internal drive to make things happen, to learn, to make experiences happen vice letting them happen to you. I’ve read about the necessity of self-motivating numerous times of the years (see Internal Motivation or Motivating Yourself) and the reason is elementary: having personal momentum, i.e. internal motivation, is the foundation on which effective leadership is built. Action begets all you will create. Let your personal momentum falter and you run the risk of letting everything else you aspire to falter as well.
Now, on to the reasons some leaders are always effective.
The Reasons Some Leaders Are Always Effective
1. They aren’t lazy. Effective leaders use their personal momentum to maintain action by creating a relevant vision and fixating on action-oriented goals for their teams. They don’t lead by waiting for stuff to happen (which would be the opposite of leadership!). When faced with an uncertainty or the need to collect more data, they continue forward motion by seeking the data needed to mitigate the risk and then they make a decision and press-on.
2. They learn. Effective leaders are constant learners. They read voraciously and not just about their technical field or area of profession. A former boss of mine would pick 3 new topics per year and read at least four books about each. I am learning French right now, embarking on earning my Six-Sigma Green Belt Certification and constantly viewing continuing education webinars. The point is that learning keeps the mind fertile and growing. Leaders who practice this will always have an open, inquisitive mind.
3. They listen. Epictetus told us: “we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Effective leaders know this to be the case. They employ exceptional listening skills that they employ constantly with their people, their boss, their customers, or family and friends. Only through listening can one truly understand what is being conveyed or what a problem is.
4. They delegate. Effective leaders know that it’s not all about them, they delegate. They also know that by using their team effectively, more can be done better, faster, and more creatively than doing it all by themselves.
5. They take care of themselves. To be effective over the long-term, leaders know they must take care of themselves. They understand that there’s no glory in burning themselves out early on in a critical project or letting their general health go to hell because they’re “too busy”. They have a practice in place for proper diet, exercise, good sleep (i.e. seven or more hours per day) and legitimate vacations (i.e. unplugged!). Effective leaders know that working 80-hour weeks and boasting about 24/7/365 connectivity isn’t impressive, it’s pathetic.
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