Leadership is more than a title or a position. A leader is someone who inspires people to follow. By definition, you can’t be a leader if no one is following you. Far too often, people assume that a title or position will give them the influence necessary for people to follow. Not true. We can all probably think of a time in our life where a person in positional authority over us did not earn the trust or respect necessary for us to truly be comfortable following them.
The boss is not the only leader in an organization. In fact, an ineffective boss is not a leader at all. Leaders exist at every level of any organization. We see people rise into those positions of influence, often never having a title that matches their true power as a leader. As Simon Sinek says, “A boss has the title. A leader has the people.”
So how do you become a leader from within?
1) Build Trust
People want to follow someone they can trust. Clarity is key. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Follow through on what you say you will do. People can have confidence not just in your ability, but in the fact that they can depend on you. Focus on building trust with those around you.
2) Own Mistakes
Face it – you won’t always make the right decision. We are all fallible humans. We all make mistakes. But as Craig Groeschel says, “People would rather follow someone who is always real than someone who is always right.” Be real. Own your mistakes. Don’t be defensive, and don’t shift blame. Own it, apologize, and get it right the next time.
3) Take Blame
“A good leader takes a little more than his fair share of the blame, a little less than his fair share of the credit.” The people around you will make mistakes. Don’t point fingers. Don’t throw people under the bus. If you are in authority over that person, you share the blame so absorb it. Simply say, “We will get it right next time.”
4) Be Consistent
The world needs more lighthouses and fewer firecrackers. Be steady. Be consistent. As a leader, you need to build confidence through a steady, consistent approach. Don’t be a bulldozer and don’t try to change everything overnight. Be patient. Your consistency will result in followers who will become your greatest advocates.
To effectively lead other people, you must start by effectively leading yourself. I hope these tips will help you turn your focus inward toward becoming the best leader you can be – from within.
When have you seen people leading even without a title or position? What qualities are important to you to see in a leader?