I have learned through out my life to pay attention to those who are successful at what I want to be doing in life. Do I want to be a better listener? Then pay attention to those who do it well. Do I want to learn how to plant a garden? Watch, listen, and learn from my dad and other great gardeners. Here are the things I have learned about what it looks like to be a great leader.
I. Listen more than I talk!
Those that know me can easily tell you this is not a strong suit for me. I am often long winded and I have come to discover, it is easier for me to write, than it is for me to speak. I decided to stop and watch the leaders around me. The number one thing I noticed is they did far less speaking and a lot more listening. When they did speak they were able to give formed thoughts, suggestions, and were engaged. Before these leaders spoke they paused, they allowed awkward silence to allow them to form their words. They were not rushed, but consciously listened and consciously spoke. I began to make conscious effort on my part to begin interacting with those around me in the same way.
2. They Slowed Down
The interesting thing to slowing down my brain to be able to listen and then to speak, is discovering slowing down is something I need to do throughout my whole life! It is an area in my life that needs to be disciplined! Instead of throwing my shirt on the end of the bed, hanging it up or putting it in the laundry. Instead of tossing my purse wherever I want to, slowing down and putting it away properly. An outward change and practice in one area of my life, becomes the stage to begin changing and practicing in other areas of my life.
3. They are not afraid of failure
When I look around at the successful entrepreneurs in my life they have embraced failure. They have tasted the joy of pushing through fear, rejection, and have boldly come to peace with failure. Seeing failure as one more way something didn’t work, another insight in what not to do. They are able to separate a circumstance failing from seeing themselves as a failure. The attempt failed, they did not fail. This is hugely important mentally! When you can make this distinction you can keep running full force and you can continue on as problem solver not a freaker outer as we say in our house. When you see yourself as the failure, you become busy fixing yourself instead of being able to see a fix to the problem. Sometimes the failure is a character trait we need to over come. This leads us to number four!
4. Leaders are not afraid to look inwardly to dig out their weaknesses
Leaders embrace their weaknesses and hire people with the strengths they lack. They see a weakness as the ability to employ someone else with a greater strength. This does not make you weak or a failure, it makes you human. Hiring or finding someone with a strength you lack speaks volumes to how you understand humans and how the world works the best. It says you appreciate the abilities and strengths God has placed in others. I believe we were never meant to be independent of each other, even though society has trained us to think differently. We are better together! Leaders continue to work on their weaknesses, but learn to appreciate where they are in their journey. When they want to strengthen a weakness they take classes, find a mentor, and/or read books.
5. Leaders continue to educate themselves
Leaders spend more time learning, researching, and adding to what they know. They are not arrogant and pretend to know something they don’t. They have learned that people see through this facade and it is wise to know what one is talking about.
6. Leaders learn to prioritize
This is a learning curve and I’m sure many leaders overbook themselves before they realize they cannot save every corner of the world. They can pick and choose which corners of their world they are going to spend their time. One of the things I learned at the last Global Leadership Summit is to give five minute favors. This has been awesome! It has allowed me to continue blessing others in my life, but not at the expense of our family, my health, or my sanity. If a favor or project is going to take longer than five minutes, it’s important to assess what my work load looks like, what our family life looks like, and to be realistic if I have the time and energy to give.
7. Leaders learn to say no
Along the same lines as prioritizing and knowing what my strength and weaknesses are, I also have to know what my goals are. If a project or possible client does not align with our family, business, or individual goals I need to say no. This is helpful in knowing which five minute favors or which volunteer projects to take on.
I’m thankful for the strong leaders God has placed in my life. I’m thankful he has given me wisdom in picking who I spend my time with. Everyone is a leader, whether we want to be or not. We can choose to ignore it or hope it goes away, but it won’t. As a mom, I am a leader twenty-four seven! I want to be a leader who inspires others to keep going when all they want to do is quit. I want to be the kind of leader that listens more and talks less. I want to be someone who slows down and doesn’t fly by the seat of my pants. I want to know who I am, what makes me tick, and what makes me, and my family happy. When I understand these, I become more joyful and I am able to stay on track to pursue my goals and passions. I’m going to get out there and do my best to be awesome! Christ in me, is working through me! To God be the glory!