“Every day, leaders must wake up and lead themselves before they can lead anyone else.” – John C. Maxwell in his book “Good Leaders Ask Great Questions”
Leader is the person people trust and follow to achieve a common goal. They aspire to be like him as they believe he has integrity, knowledge, problem solving and decision making ability to overcome the difficulties that come on their way to their goal.
The difference between a manager and a leader is that the manager does things right and the leader does the right things. A manager is supposed to know how things are done and managed but a leader is more than that. He knows why they are to be done.
People will follow a leader as long as he has their trust in his knowledge and ability to lead them to their desired goal. And a leader cannot have the trust of the people unless he is authentic and has a strong character. A leader has to constantly make sincere effort to improve his inner-self and try to reach the benchmark of what a good leader should be.
David O. McKay a religious leader has rightly said, “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul.”
Here are a few characteristics of a good leader.
- Setting an example
To be a good leader you have to set an example. You have to do the right things for people to look up to you. You have to be reasonably successful in whatever you have set out to do or be. As a leader you are constantly being watched .When you stumble or exhibit poor qualities you lose considerable influence.
It is important for a leader to come out of a difficult situation with decisions which show the greatest display of strength of character before his followers.
- Exercising self-control
You have to teach yourself self-control as people do not tend to follow or respect people who fly off the handle at every opportunity.
- Leading from the front
To get genuine admiration and trust of people you have to let go use of authority or your position to get things done, you have to actually lead from the front.
- Being calm and patient
A leader needs to be patient as he nurtures the strengths of the people he leads and helps them overcome their weaknesses. He should have the humility to understand that he can remain leader only as long as he is giving service to others.
- Thinking of the team before himself
He should be the last in the team to eat. Only then he can be called a true leader.
- Being a good follower
He should be a good follower if he has to be a good leader. If people observe that you are not able to follow your leader yourself they are not likely to follow you.
- Being a visionary and knowing WHY
The leader has to train himself to understand why something should be done more than how. He should have the vision to know whether the team or people following him are going in the right direction to achieve the goal. If not the team will be lost and will keep on working not knowing that their focus needs to be elsewhere. The leader has to lead first learning to focus all activities keeping the end in mind.
- Taking feedback with an open mind
He must learn to have an open questioning mind and should take feedback from his followers and others so that he is able to continuously improve.
- Leading with the power of inner strength, authenticity and character.
Any work that we do from the CEO of the company to the janitor requires you to interact with others and you automatically get into a leadership role where you can influence people and they can look up to you for help and guidance. They respect you more for your inner strength authenticity and character.
A leader has to train his conscience to work towards making him a better man with values and commitment.
Above all, a true leader needs to develop kindness, generosity, wisdom and gentleness and have continued self- discipline.
The greatest reason why a leader has to first lead himself by acquiring inner strength and a strong character is that the followers will follow him only as long as they can look up to him with respect and trust and aspire to become great like him.
He has to therefore constantly reinvent himself with the affairs of the world and with the knowledge needed to lead his people. But the most of all he has to keep improving his inner self and trying to achieve higher levels of a strong character.