Embracing the Stepping Stones to Successful Leadership

English: Stepping stones
English: Stepping stones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whether you’re a part-time freelancer or a recently retired CEO of a multi-million dollar business, developing solid leadership skills is something we will never outgrow! Leaders come in all ages, shapes, sizes, income levels, and educational backgrounds. Just look up and you’ll find endless examples of leaders in action whether it be for the better or worse. You’ll find them at the mall Christmas shopping, teaching your kids, signing your paycheck! You’ll even find the younger ones helping the even smaller ones at meal time, but the one you’ll find most often, is the one who greets you in the mirror each morning!

We often don’t think of ourselves as “leaders”, but that is exactly what each and every one of us is being trained for every day that we live. That’s right, you are destined for a position in leadership, and if you have children, so are they! Therefore, it’s not a bad idea to start embracing the stepping stones that will lead you to becoming a leader that any person would love to follow, and as far as children go, in this day and age, you definitely want them to be following your lead and not that of the influential and often menacing crowd around them.

Taking it one stone at a time:

1. The Stone of Observation: In order to make sound decisions as a leader, you have to be willing to have those times when you make yourself available to just sit and observe how those under your leadership are functioning. Everyone has his or her own way of completing tasks. Some are successful and some are not. Your job is to help pin point where the system is breaking down before you can offer assistance in the repair process.

2. The Stone of Respect: We all know the saying: “You’ll catch more flies with honey.” Well, this phrase also applies to leaders who will gain far more cooperation from other teammates when they demonstrate respect rather than judgmental accusations towards others. A proper leader respects every man’s worth.

3. The Stone of Encouragement: It’s rather easy to hit a person when they are down by making them feel even worse for mistakes that they have made, but under quality leadership care, encouragement is a top priority. You will find encouragement in leaders who have the gifted ability to pin point the strengths that others possess and draw them out. When you take notice of a person’s strengths, what you are doing, is releasing them from their weaknesses, and giving them new hope for what they can accomplish down the road.

4. The Stone of Commitment: A committed leader is one who is also fearless. This type of leader is not afraid to take the next step, nor is he afraid to swallow his pride and try something that he has never done before. Most of all, a committed leader does not only have concern for seeing a task to completion, he is also just as concerned about the process and taking extra effort to make sure that those under him have all the necessary resources to do the job right. This type of leader is also not afraid to roll up his or her own sleeves and take on a task that goes beyond his or her comfort zone. In other words, he or she is not afraid to take a humble walk in another man’s shoes.

5. The Stone of Reward: Recognition is key if you want your team to continue to work hard. All work and no play is not the way we were created to live. When an exceptional job is done, take time to reward the work with kind words. Benefits and incentives also go a long way in showing others that you recognize their efforts.

These stepping stones have to do with balance. Being an effective leader is, not at all, an easy job because of the large amount of accountability involved. Why is it that individuals can be great leaders in one part of their lives, and fail at another? I believe it has to do with how we were “leadership trained” during our childhood years and beyond on the things that were valued most in both our early learning and in the limitations of what we were taught to value most. Because of this, we need to constantly go back and reevaluate ourselves and the image that we are projecting. Not one person’s leadership resume will look exactly the same as another’s. We are all proficient at different things. However, the virtues of humility, morality and servitude are universal to all good leaders.

When a leader pauses and allows another to take center stage because she knows this team member has a better understanding of a particular issue, that is humility at work. When a leader is required to step in to cover a teammates workload because the team member had to take an unexpected leave from work due to his child being sick that leader is exercising his moral standards on the importance of family. Finally, when a leader uses his one day off to regularly head service projects such as working at a local shelter, this is a leader who knows how to demonstrate what a servant heart looks like in action. If you haven’t already, begin this Christmas season by allowing such virtues of true living leadership shine! It will surely make a resounding statement to those amongst your team that the stones you are leaving behind are worth standing upon as they are left to wonder to what higher ground will each one lead!

Cece

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