I’ve been working since I was 15 years old. I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to work in the fast food establishment for these very important reasons:
1) I’m not a great cook.
2) I’m not that fast or efficient.
3) I would have been terrible at the cashier station. #FreeMealsForEveryone = )
My first job actually was at a nursing home, I was a Nursing Assistant. I helped take care of ailing and/or sick veterans, Cool Right?? Yes, I thought so too. While that was a pretty heavy task for a 15yr old whom really never gotten exposed to such things; I really loved it. I was the type of person whom put everything into my work, I learned a lot and while there were many ups and downs in my long working career, the most challenging job for me was when I was asked to take the lead on certain projects within my job history.
You can say that I’ve always had a great opinion about things in which probably lead to an individual’s reasoning’s for wanting to place me in “Leadership” Roles. While the term “Leader” is quite an exhilarating word; full of empowerment and boldness, I have to admit – I didn’t take it seriously and probably let down the many people whom felt I would be good at it. In order to be a great leader, you first have to be a successful follower and listener. In my early stages, I had the attitude of “You can’t tell me anything, because I know everything” – I wanted to be the chief and lead the pack, but I didn’t have the humility to take out the time to become an Indian first.
“If you think you’re leading and no one is following – You’re just taking a walk.”
If you can’t be a good Indian, then you’ll never become a great Chief. You see, I never took the role of leadership seriously because I didn’t understand what a leader really was. I had no prior knowledge or role model that paved the way before that was fully knowledgeable or could have given me advice, I pretty much winged it and went for what I knew. Listening and being fully committed to the leader role were my downfalls. I can’t possibly tell you how many good opportunities I’ve had that I totally bombed on, because I was using leadership in the wrong way. Now that I’m older and have supervised and had other leader roles, I’ve learned quite a bit and would like to share some of those tips with you, in hopes that you don’t make the same mistakes as I did. I’ve also included some of my favorite notable quotes from John C. Maxwell & Byrd Baggett.
Tip #1: You Gotta Have Love!
“You can love people without leading them, but you cannot lead people without loving them.”
In order to lead, you have to possess a great love for a diverse group of people. When you become a leader, you can’t focus on the people whom think, act and/or talk and walk like you. When you become a leader, you’ll be leading many people from all walks and circles of life. Having a Love for all types of people, is the first step in leading effectively.
Tip #2: Turn the Power OFF!
“Managers hold on, Leaders let GO!”
Most people love leadership because it gives them power. Power in which they feel they can use to control other people and make them do what they want. You can’t have a power trip while being a leader. Instead, choose to lead because you want to make a difference in someone’s life. When you lead out of “power” you’re actually hurting the people that are looking up to you to make good, valuable, fair and honest decisions for their life and/or career. Think of it this way, the people that you lead, will eventually become leaders themselves one day; so you want to make sure that you’re putting forth a positive effort to be a good one, because they will need to look back on your leadership abilities to help them lead others. – So, what type of leader are portraying?
Tip#3: Shut Down Second Hand News
“Leaders bring out the best in others.”
I’ve been in leadership roles before where people brought me news about my constituents – it wasn’t good news, but riddled with negativity. Being new to leadership, this made me feel terrible, I went into my job with mixed emotions about whom I would be leading all because of news that other people were bringing to me. While it’s good to listen and take notes, you do have the right as a leader to shut those conversations down before they get started. When you become a leader you want to go into your new role with a blank canvas about everything. Trust me, in due time you’ll be able to form your own opinion about others which will be due to you getting to know them and not because of what someone else has already planted in your mind. Everything is not always what it seems, sometimes it is – but most times it isn’t.
Tip#4: Keep Your Cool – Everyone’s Not on Board
“Good leaders are like baseball umpires, they go practically unnoticed when doing their jobs right.”
As stated in Tip#2, your employees and/or followers are looking to you to make their work life easy, not hard. If you’re constantly on a power trip and not giving them the substance they need to be better, do better and etc. then you’re failing them (now I know everyone is not a receptor of learning and growing or wanting to do better) but just because they have that attitude doesn’t mean that you have to fail at your role. While they may not be a model employee, you still have to be a model leader.
Tip#5: What are you Learning
“Leadership is an action, Not a Position.”
As a leader you may feel as though your job is to always teach, instruct, or guide and yes, that’s true but a great leader is always receptacle of learning as well. Just because you’re a leader, that doesn’t make you perfect; we all have to keep our mind and heart open to learn from our employees or followers. Leadership is a two way street; you invoke learning with the expectation of learning and gaining the necessary nuggets you need to become an even greater leader. Be willing to have an open heart to receive knowledge from everyone. From the Doorman to the Janitor to the CEO, there’s great wisdom and knowledge that we can get from everyone, no matter their status or rank. Learning is a tool, that goes round and round but is only available to those whom are willing to accept it. So, what are you learning in the process?
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Lastly & Most Importantly. Keep your focus! – Leaders listen more than they speak; they choose their words carefully and they’re not afraid to admit when they’re wrong. They don’t get caught up in gossip and they don’t choose sides, they are fair and honest. A good leader is hard to find but shouldn’t have to be as we’re all leaders in some form, shape or another. You just have to choose which leader you want to be.
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