by: Remie Longbrake | published: Aug 10, 2020
Leadership is a valuable in every aspect of our lives. We often look at leaders as those who run the businesses we work in, the church we attend, and the people we vote for. What many don’t realize is that we are all leaders in our own ways. Leaders are influencers, and we all have children, spouses, friends, colleagues, that all we look to us in unique ways for our opinions, our strength and encouragement. Now more than ever it is important to lead by example. Your influence is powerful, believe it or not, so the question becomes is how do we become better at leading?
Leading starts with how you lead yourself. We need to start there in order to be more effective in the home, our workplace, our church, and society. You can use the steps outlined below to build a foundation of leadership that truly helps and motivates others to do their best. Of course, this starts with you, so let’s get started.
1. What do you stand for?
When it comes to living your best life what thoughts come to mind? What principles do you stand by? This perspective helps strengthen you values and relates to your bigger purpose and what matters to you. That time to relax, write down what is important and how these attributes play into your daily life. Your values should be a reflection of who you come across as, but often that is not the case. We get lost in the day to day stresses. Between work, family, time, money constraints, plus many others, it is entirely possible to lose focus on the overall picture and come across to others as the person you don’t want to become. Do a self-assessment and ask other their opinions on how you can lead better.
2. What is your mission?
Once you have completed the assessment, you can take this a step further and determine what is your overall mission. Your mission should include how you better your family, community and the world in your own unique ways given the values you stand for. Again, write these down and over time try to get clearer on what your mission is. You want to get as specific as possible. Do not be vague here, you need to be clear on what it is that is important to you so you can lead others more effectively, including yourself.
3. What do you really want?
What comes to mind when you think of what you want in life? This should be more then all the stuff you want. That is fine, but realize stuff you cannot take with you when you go. Look at it from the perspective of what difference can you make and how will you be remembered. Look into your relationships, your leadership character, the things you do day to day. What is the energy you bring to yourself and others. Write these down and determine if your current environment includes these aspects already. If they don’t determine how can you start and improve on these areas. Try to not get overwhelmed as this is a life’s journey, but realize no day is guaranteed for any of us so today is a good day to start to put your wants into perspective.
4. What does your day account for?
What is it that is going to help you along your journey, in order to lead better and feel better? What is the day to day processes that currently do? Are they helpful? We all have inefficiencies and we can all do better. A great tip you can do is write down everything you do in a given day. Do this for a week and see where you are possibly wasting time and could put more effort in certain areas that match your mission and what you say you want. You cannot expect more from others when you are unable to give more yourself. Leadership starts with you, and that is important to understand. If you are not currently using a planner, now is a great time to start. Schedule in time you spend at work, commuting, how much time devoted to exercise, learning, and of course family time. Block out time the best as possible. At the end of each day, see how you done. What hurdles got it the way, try to find patterns that conflict with your mission and what you say you want. See if someone else can handle those conflicts as they may be more suited to work with those areas. Of course, if you cannot remove the conflict areas then you need to better prepare yourself with have you can move past these areas or deal with them.
5. Are you achieving what you want to?
Now based off your mission and purpose to lead yourself and others, what steps are you taking to do this? You need to evaluate your day and your weeks and be able to get real with yourself so at the end of the day you do feel accomplished. To many of us just go day to day without direction. It’s because our habits have been ingrained into our subconscious to the point where most tasks become second nature. This is fine on an efficiency aspect, but when these habits don’t actually match the person we need to become, then it is time to break these habits, which isn’t easy to do. That is why it is important to plan out your day, write down the trouble areas and take action to correct. If you are not in a position to lead yourself, then you are not in position to lead others. And since we know we are all leaders, especially for our children, then we need to step up and become the person we need to be, if anything for them.
6. Do you give people the attention they deserve?
Are you giving people your full attention? This is true in meetings, in conversation, at home. We live such busy lives that it’s easy to get distracted. Try your best to be in the moment. Give others your time in full. Keep the phone down, email, and pay attention. This is where scheduling comes into play. Plan your day out and as the more you understand all that occurs you become a better planner and be more efficient. As much as people say they are multitaskers, we have a hard time trying to focus on multiple areas at once. Sometime this is needed, but if you can help it focus on one thing at a time. It is generally much quicker anyway as you don’t need to antiquate yourself. This is important, especially in leadership, give your peers and others the time they deserve, and you will get the respect you want.
7. Are you trying to avoid problems or solve them?
Solving problems is important to meaningful leadership, but many leaders fall into a trap of trying to avoid problems. Unfortunately, many times we don’t get to choose whether we will have problems, but good leaders don’t avoid them. They encourage dialog and solutions to help solve the problem. Too many of us, whether at home or in the workplace tend to put off the problem and let it be a bigger problem then what it needed to be. It takes less effort to just figure out a solution in the present. The leader in you should reward overcoming trials and this starts with you.
8. What changes are you making?
In order to be a great leader, needed changes will inevitably come up. Whether that is in our routines, the people we associate with, even our attitude. We need to see what may seem like sacrifices in the short term as investments for the long term. It’s in the changes that positive results will start to occur. It is likely going to take time, especially if our habits take hold which does make things difficult. Don’t be afraid to reward yourself after an accomplishment. Let others know you are making changes and let them help encourage you. Be sure to do the same for others and share in the wins, even if they may seem small. Over time, this is how we become better, and that includes leadership, which is the encouragement of others to overcome adversity. When you are willing to take those steps and put in effort, you will be successful. Those successes won’t come without challenges, but that is the point, change doesn’t come easy.
9. Are you reacting to situations or leading from them?
This in times are adversity that great leaders are made. As you take on more responsibly, whether that is at work, raising children, helping a friend, neighbor, etc, how do to react when trouble comes about? Do you find yourself taking the easiest solution or do you find the best solution? Those very well are two different paths. Many people will often take the easy path and just react to the situation instead of doing what is right. Normally these situations effect more than just you and without thinking we will do whatever we can to get out of the situation, so we don’t have to deal with it. That is not the best approach in many cases. In a team or work format, a good leader will work with the Team to come up with solution or put the best person on that task for the best outcome. If it’s just you facing this crisis, rest assured you don’t have to deal with it alone. Let other in on the challenge being faced. Open up with others and seek solutions. It’s very unlikely you are the only one dealing with this particular issue, so learn from others and don’t be afraid to seek advice yourself. The best thing we can do is work with others and try to see problems ahead of time. Of course, that takes time and may not always work out, but we want to try to prevent knee-jerk reactions if possible. That induces stress, not only on yourself but others. We also want our days to flow as best as possible, and when we are continually putting out fires, that become difficult to do.
10. How do you collaborate?
When it comes to leading, how do you work with the team? The team is just as important at work is it is at home. It takes communication and dialog to understand perspective and to advance the overall wellness of the team’s relationship with each other. In a work setting, it may take more effort to get others opinion, but it is crucial to ask of them if you do not readily receive. Many people are afraid to make their opinions know due to beliefs of being judged. As leaders we want others to feel safe and it’s our job to make others feel safe so we can encourage collaboration and seek answers from the team. Ultimately, it’s how we grow, as leaders we don’t have all the answers, nor should we, so we should not give out orders without allowing some questions and encouraging questions and concerns to be addressed. At home, this works just the same. The family itself is a team, and just like at work we need to work together to find solutions that work in the best interest of everyone. Those answers may not come easily or without dialog, and that is okay. The key is to place focus on seeking resolution over conflict and judgement. Too often we will want to fight and place blame on someone else, but as a leader we want to avoid that. As a team we need to bring others up and seek the right answers even when it is difficult. That is leadership, and the example you bring is what the team needs to overcome challenges as they arise.
11. How are you communicating?
Communicating is key to leadership and growth of the team. When leaders are open and regularly share and communicate, this provides as a source of dialog. Strong communication fosters a spirit of belonging, one of our fundamental needs. If you don’t communicate enough, over time this can build feelings of anxiety, frustration, doubt and negativity among the team. This is because they don’t necessarily know your viewpoint and by default many will see lack of communication as hiding something or not caring enough in general. As you do communicate, consider other people’s perspectives and their opinion. Encourage dialog even if it doesn’t always seem eye to eye with your own. Be willing to listen and possibly learn from those perspectives. You want to keep the team positive and upbeat and encourage others as much as possible. Be candid and respect others and encourage engagement between yourself and the team as much as possible.
12. Are others better off after time spent?
If you are being an effective leader, then people will see the time spent with you as rewarding. They may not always agree with the decision, but if they respect that decision because it is being made from good character then that is what is important. As a leader, whether at home, or work, or wherever, people are don’t always going to see eye to eye with you. It’s through allowing dialog and hearing others out that over time respect is earned. The part about leadership is not to be liked, that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to be mean and disrespectful, however. The point is to lead by being involved, by being open to making the difficult decisions even when they are not popular. Overall, you want others to be able to come to you, be respected, and leave a conversation knowing that you understand their perspective and have the best solution in hand. Now being better off may not mean that you are going to give in to what others want either. But you want others to realize that you have their needs in mind and are willing to make choices based on the better good, even if directly hard choices are being made.
13. How are you developing others?
Leadership is about helping others advance, both as a team, but also individually. A good leader can recognize the strengths of individuals and place them in positions when growth can occur for that individual and the team as a whole. A leader is willing to encourage and add positive reinforcement. A leader is also willing and take initiative when it comes to overcoming trials. Many times an individual will not out and say they’re struggling in a certain area, that leader needs to see that challenges are being faced and be able to take steps to remedy this. Often that means asking inquisite questions and times just listening at times and hearing people out. The answers from this may not always be rosy however, sometimes it’s going to take placing pressure on individuals and the team to get to that next steps. We all have our strengths along with our weaknesses, and it’s best as a leader to see this so the team can prosper.
14. What are you bringing?
What is it in your leadership style that helps others improve themselves. Remember leadership is best done from a position of reinforcement, not enforcement. The tone and actions you take are directly responsible for the outcome, and as a leader you need to be aware of this. We all have value, and our value is being able to help others, that is leadership. Lead with character, and place yourself in positions to where you can grow as much as you expect others to. When it comes to the work place, effective leadership is important. The highest costs are in turnover, and that turnover is generally due to a lack of leadership and hostile work environments. As a leader that we are, it is up to us all to respect each other and help each other grow together and commit to change as it is needed. At home, we need to be good parents, encourage our children to want to learn and do good. To show love and appreciation for all the is important, which is our family and our commitment to each other.
"We are all leaders. Lead from within always and do your best for the team." -Remie Longbrake
Written by: Remie Longbrake