There is a difference between being in charge, and being a leader. Becoming a boss or a manager takes work, but ultimately such promotion can actually happen in the absence of leadership. Being a boss means bearing an official capacity to professionally oversee a group of people. Being a leader on the other hand, means bearing a sense of inherent authority that influences others regardless of one’s title. Bosses learn and follow the rules, whereas leaders make them. Bosses manage people, whereas leaders inspire them. True leadership is guided by the ability to tap into people’s emotions and cultivate sincere devotion in any environment.
Being a rounded leader especially requires mastery of the ability to lead by example. Often when people find themselves assuming positions of leadership, they develop a mindset of entitlement that is triggered by superiority. This entitlement is responsible for the majority of bad habits that diminish the authority that comes with leadership. For instance, when leaders become entitled, they start to rely on delegation excessively. When leaders become entitled, they disconnect and distance themselves from their employees. Actively remembering to lead by example is the strongest way to curtail these outcomes and maintain integrity as a leader. So what does it take lead by example? It takes four basic steps:
1. Adopt a Sense of Determination
Leading by example begins with developing the sheer will to do whatever it takes in order to accomplish set goals. A strong sense of determination is what fuels success. Without determination for instance, marathon runners would never cross the finish line. Without determination, no meaningful invention would ever survive the first stages of failure. It is critical to always be prepared to challenge oneself as a leader so as to push through any obstacles that threaten your objectives. When those who follow you see determination, it emboldens them as well to join the effort and work hard to realize success. When you embrace determination, setbacks become less and less likely to cause disruption in your work.
2. Become Informed
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. The more knowledge one possesses, the more aptitude they have to make effective, beneficial decisions. It is important to have as much technical expertise as possible because this will enhance professional performance. But beyond understanding everything about your work, becoming informed about your environment and the people you encounter in it is also necessary. Learn about your colleagues. Learn their strengths and weaknesses. Learn their capabilities. The more you learn, the more strategically placed you will be to draw out exceptional performance from yourself and the people you oversee.
3. Take Initiative
Passiveness and hesitation are poisonous to leadership. The desire to lead by example must be predicated on a willingness to actually set an example. In this sense, having the willingness to take initiative is a quality that is indispensable to strong leadership. A strong leader should always be prepared to make decisive choices. A strong leader should always be prepared to show guidance when it is needed. Rather than asking the question, “Can I?” leaders should step up and ask the question “How can I?” When followers recognize initiative in their leader, it creates a sense of stability and direction in a group that keeps them grounded on their shared mission.
4. Demonstrate a Positive Attitude
Optimism is the lifeblood of good morale. When a leader projects positivity towards followers, this encourages productivity by instilling a sense of confidence among the group. Positivity is more than a display of good cheer however. Projecting a positive attitude also involves continuous, conscientious interaction with others. This means being transparent and receptive to communication from employees. It means having a willingness to treat people fairly whether rewarding them, or disciplining them. The underlying goal when it comes to optimism is being able to sincerely demonstrate genuine care for one’s team.
Transforming oneself as a leader takes courage. It takes boldness and discipline to search within oneself in order to make changes and try to improve. As daunting as it seems, change is possible. All it takes is a little courage and discipline to transcend fear of the unknown. If you are willing to be determined, become informed, take initiative and face the future with optimism, nothing can stop you from finding success.