Five Lessons of Leadership

Do you consider yourself to be a leader? I hope you do. Because being a leader is not something esoteric. It's not something reserved for a small elite.

Rather, as Stephen Covey once said, leadership is a choice. It's something anyone can choose to do, though it's not easy, and takes courage. And in choosing to lead, you learn what it takes, and begin a journey that unfolds throughout your life.

There are many lessons in leading. Here are five lessons from my leadership journey.

The Choice - Stephen Covey said "Leadership is a choice, not a position." But many choose not to lead. Rather, they look down at their feet and wait for someone else to stick their neck out. Yes, leading is a risk. It takes courage. Once my dad said to me, "You've got moxie." Moxie is the ability to face difficulty with spirit and initiative. I like that. When my dad complimented me, saying that I had moxie and was proud of me for a brave thing I did, I felt great.

The Vision - Warren Bennis once said that leaders have the ability to turn vision into reality. So leading starts with a vision, a dream of a better way, better than what exists now. This is the starting point of inspiration.

The Team - Leaders know you can't get there by yourself. If a leader can convey his vision to others, and get them excited about it, he can mobilize others and start a movement toward the desired state.

The Idea - Some leaders are highly intelligent and might qualify as "the smartest guy in the room." But other leaders recognize that everyone on the team has ideas. Truly smart leaders seek the input and ideas of others. They listen and invite others to speak up. When the ideas surface from the team, rather than from the leader, there is a greater feeling of ownership.

The Bench - Leaders understand their own limits, and their own mortality. So they look for talent and build bench strength. They coach and mentor. At some point, the leader will tap his successor and say "Now it's your turn."

Along the path of your leadership journey, you will experience successes and failures, gaining wisdom as you go. And with leadership wisdom, you will be in a position to guide others who are also choosing to lead.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, September 6, 2010. For more tips on leadership development, visit Terry's website and invite him to your organization.

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