LEADERSHIP / AUG. 05, 2014
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What Makes a Great Leader

Leadership is something that is infinitely interesting to me. I constantly research leadership talks, studies and individuals. I do not aim to be like them, but I want to learn from their failures and successes. In this particular talk, Roselinde Torres discusses 25 years of leaders to find what is happening in the world of leadership growth.

We Are Doing It Wrong

The idea of leadership is often based on previous leaders from a different time. My own hero, John Wooden, may still hold up to the test of time, but in many cases those that we study have no bearing on the world as it is today.

So what has caused this frustrating change? Part of the issue comes from the fact that the business world is moving faster than “best practices” can keep up. Here is the big thing; great leaders are those that are ahead of their time. This is something that cannot be learned. Risk takers make great leaders. Those that are willing to fail, learn from that failure, and use that to increase their ability to lead are the ones that are most likely going to succeed in their role.

Business is Getting Awfully “Businessey”

When I last worked in the real world I remember hearing a great deal about “best practices” and “leadership initiatives.” Those words mean nothing. You cannot simply make a blanket statement as to how things should be done and expect them to work. Instead, you need to teach people that failure is not a bad thing, it is the only option.

Blanket policies are good for covering individuals and businesses as they learn their role. What is missing is the encouragement to try new things and find new avenues to reach goals. Sure, some companies are doing fine with their current “best practices” but what if they never trained those particular ideas. What if they simply gave time to their individuals to develop on their own, with guidance from those that have a proven record of leading others?

All of a sudden, you will see some individuals thinking outside of the box and inspiring new ideas. Those new ideas will then lead to new “best practices” for the company. A leader is not someone that teaches others how to do work and watches over them; that is a manager. A leader can come from anywhere. The bagger at your local grocery store may be the best leader that store has. Through his actions, he inspires others to do great things. He may have tried something new that cut hours out of the working day to keep the shelves straight.

Ultimately, there is not a way to learn to become a leader. Leadership is only built on the foundation of a love for learning and teaching. Money can’t come into the picture. Instead, you must be passionate about what you have learned and in turn share that information with others. You need to have an endless desire to help others reach their goals, regardless of your own personal gains. Leadership is not for everyone. Great leaders will find their way in time. Study those that have been successful, but blaze your own path.

Image Source: Joshua’s Journey

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