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Do you have what it takes to be a Leader? Eight Stages to developing your Leadership.

11 June 2011

Having nearly completed my Masters in Leadership, in my view leadership is present in many situations and people display leadership whether it’s in the work environment, in community or sports and although it is not always recognised there are signs of leadership everywhere. For some leadership is natural, they have the ability to take control and lead and for others it is learnt, but like any skill, natural or otherwise, it needs continual practice and refining, so even a born leader will plateau without continually refining his/her skills.

Here I outline the eight steps to becoming a leader: some of the traits you may already have and others you will need to develop. 

1. Courage

 Leaders regardless of where or who they lead, need courage.  To have courage in leadership requires one to take a stand for what they believe to be right and just.  Courage of course, is not always popular and there is always the danger of being on the outer and typically in business where we are driven by results and bottom-line.   Yet being courageous also means being the first to initiate change, the courage to stand up for what you belief is true leadership.

2. Values

 Great leadership and values are closely aligned.  A good leader has clarity of their own values and what is important to them.  Values are the rules, which drive our decisions and ultimately our lives.  Our values exist in the realm of have a hierarchy and although most are not aware of this hierarchy; it’s the hierarchy that puts a line in the sand.  Some rules are not to be broken because these rules are part of what defines you as a person.

3. Passion

 Leaders have passion.  They are people who have strong belief and a desire that gives them a strong direction or pull towards their goal.  Finding your passion gives purpose and that purpose then becomes the driving force.

A leader has to have a passion for people and a belief they he/she will be successful through people. 

4. Charisma

 Charismatic leaders are able to influence and engage others by evoking emotions of those they lead and in do so followers identify with the leader.  Charismatic leaders are prepared to take risks, they are the ones who are able to put themselves on the line for what they believe and they are aware and responsive to the needs of those that follow them. 

Emotional intelligence is high on the agenda of a charismatic leader. Being aware of emotions enables the leader to have more empathy and build strong relationships with followers. 

There is a down side to charisma, which a leader needs to be aware of also. Leaders often think that a “celebrity” status is a sign of a good leader, not so. Without check and balances and a clear awareness of emotions this leader runs the risk of abusing power and may cross the line ethically.  A good example of this would be Enron’s ECO Jeffrey Skilling.  Through charisma Skilling was able to wield his web of lies and influence stakeholders both internally and externally. Skilling managed to send the company broke and left staff without their pension funds.

Rather than a celebrity status or ego a true leader displays humility.  Humility in knowing that those who choose to follow them and indebtedness to those who help the leader humble them achieves their goals. By being humble you show a genuine interest in people and they in turn will listen to what you have to say.

5. Vision

A vision implies a picture.  An abstract painting is not clear to understand (not for me at least).  I can’t at a glance understand what message the painter is trying to convey the same could be said of a photo that has too much light or blurry it is difficult to see the full picture.  How can you lead people if your vision is blurry?  It is amazing how many businesses I come across that do not have a strategy or that strategy is in someone’s head.   If the vision isn’t clear it cannot be communicated.  If the vision is not clear it is like fighting your way through a fog, you hope that you will get through it and you know somewhere there is an end, the problem is you can’t see past your nose.

Athlete’s who are at the top of their sports have clear visions, they are able to visualise their course and know clearly the strategy the twists and turns, they are aware of the their breathing and their heartbeat.  The clarity of a leaders vision is similar to that of an athlete, the vision is lived and breathed.  Once you live and breath the vision it becomes a part of you and it is then shared and by sharing it, it engages the help of others.   Without a clear vision and hard work, an athlete soon perishes, a leader without a clear vision it not a leader, they are a two-minute wonder.

6. Committment

If you want to be a leader you need to dream and dream big, leave the small dreams to others. Don’t be afraid to be hold, after all if you don’t do it someone else will.  And don’t let yourself be satisfied with second place, go for gold. 

7. S.W.O.T Analysis

Do a S.W.O.T. on yourself. What are your strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?  While this tool is generally used for strategic planning, it is effective your personal strategy plan – being a leader.

Start by listing all of your strengths and don’t be bashful.  Think on this, because it is much easier for us to find our weaknesses than our strengths.  You might engage the help of others to identify the full suite of your strengths.   Acknowledge what you are good at and identify what weaknesses you need to focus on.  The things that keep us from achieving our full potential are often our fears, doubts and anxieties; these are the demons that surface their ugly heads when there is a challenge.

8. Find a Mentor

Find a mentor in someone who has achieved a high degree of success.  Don’t be afraid to ask someone to mentor you, what have you got to lose by asking?  And you will never know their response so don’t anticipate it. Study the greats of leadership who you admire, learn from others and model others but at the same time remaining authentic to yourself, don’t lose the core of who you are by trying to be someone else.  Find the leader within YOU, it there just LOOK!

“Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.”

General George S. Patton



About the Author:

Anna Zammit is one of Australia's leading Business Development Strategists. A Sales Trainer and Master Coach with over twenty years sales experience in direct marketing and sales, retail and corporate sales, Anna is no ordinary business women. Anna has been recognised both in Australia and internationally for her business development achievements and in one project alone was able to save $230mil under management for a client.

Anna is the Managing Director of Xsell, providing business development strategy through training and coaching to a range of businesses.