A Short Cheat Sheet on Leadership

LeadershipWhat are some of the essentials of leadership? Here are some of the things that I think are critical to successful and effective leadership. Take these to heart to be a more effective leader!

Leadership is influence. This is my definition of leadership and it has dual impact. For many who do not see themselves as leaders, this is an eye-opener. No matter our position in a company or any other kind of organization, each of us is a leader because there is always someone who is influenced by us. On the other hand, those who are in a leadership position need to understand the influence they have on others. Many leaders don’t understand the magnitude of their influence on those that follow. It is vital that this is understood by all leaders.

When your credibility is shot, so is your leadership.  Not only do leaders need to understand the influence they have on others, but they also need to understand that when their credibility suffers, their leadership is dead. People follow leaders willingly – and they won’t follow you until they believe in you. A leader loses credibility when their actions are not in alignment with their words. There are many ways a leader loses credibility, but here are three that I have seen most often:

  1. Credibility is lost when a leader says one thing and then does another. Leaders wLeadership-abstract-007ho view rules and policies as things everyone else must follow have little credibility.
  2. Credibility is lost when leaders do not keep their word. The “little things” carry big impact. Little things like, “I’ll respond to your email tomorrow,” are remembered. Don’t promise if you can’t deliver. Certainly, we are all guilty of overlooking an email on occasion, but there are some who continually promise but never deliver on those promises. Believe me, people know how you are and they know you can’t be trusted to keep your word. The “little things” tend to be a pretty good predictor of how you will handle the “big things.”
  3. Credibility is lost when private information is not kept private. No one likes a gossip and leaders who do not hold private information private lose credibility swiftly. When private information is shared, the other person feels betrayed and credibility is destroyed.

Leadership is not about the leader, it’s about everyone else. Leaders should genuinely understand those that follow. Leaders must demonstrate emotional intelligence – understanding the team, taking into account their perspective, seeing things as they see them. This also requires the sharing of information with the team, keeping an “open door” so that anyone feels welcome to express feelings about an initiative or project –  even when they disagree with you.

Leaders have a vision and know how to communicate it. Many times we get bogged down in the daily grind because we lose sight of the vision. Leaders must know how to communicate the vision – paint a picture that everyone can relate to and grasp. And leaders must continually remind their followers about the vision and how each person’s contribution supports that vision. This establishes ownership and it also will result in each person taking responsibility and owning their part.

Are there other characteristics of leadership that you believe belong on this cheat sheet? If so, I’d love to hear them!


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