If you are a writer, speaker, coach, influencer, or business owner, you are a leader. The size of your audience does not matter. People look up to you for guidance, support, and encouragement. You're helping them get to where they're going.
But how do you become a great leader?
Craig Groeschel, founder and senior pastor of Life.Church, says that there are three key characteristics every great leader embodies: Transparency, Empathy, and Consistency.
Today, we will be diving into and examining those three key characteristics as well as two more important qualities that I personally believe are vital to successful leadership.
Developing these skills will elevate your effectiveness as a leader and will help those you lead to experience greater success and growth! So, let’s dive in!
I interviewed a team recently. I was at a weekend event and this team works together with excellence. They have the best company culture of anyone I've encountered. It's amazing. And so I just said, "I'm going to take this time, not just enjoying this retreat, but also asking and interviewing some of these team members."
So, I pulled them aside for coffee a couple of different times. And I said, “What is it that makes your company culture so great? Why are you so loyal and devoted to your leader?”
Every single one of them said it's her transparency.
“When she makes a mistake, she lets us know. She invites us in. She says, ‘Hey, I really messed up. I'm sorry. Here's what I want to do differently.’”
This was astonishing to me because I always thought that leaders are supposed to have it all together and show that they know what they’re doing.
No. A great leader has got to be real. You've got to be humble, open, and honest; then your team will trust you.
You have to show your team that you care, that you're interested in what is on their minds and on their hearts.
I had a leader once, who always said, “Hey, Nika, you know what? This is work and work is not personal.”
And I thought to myself, “Yes, it is. Of course it is, because you know who does work? Persons. So, work is always personal.”
You can't take the people out of the project. You have to remember that they bring their whole lives into what they're doing.
And if they have something going on or if they are having their own moments of feeling inadequate to a specific assignment, we have to be empathetic in those moments.
We have to be understanding and compassionate to their needs and their situations. If we aren’t, then we can’t be upset when they no longer wish to follow us or when someone is not empathetic to our own needs.
Consistency means showing up in a way that your people can count on.
When I was a high school teacher, I would give my students the new vocabulary for the six weeks, and then I would have us make a list of sentences.
We would talk it out and discuss how to use a particular word in a sentence. And I remember one time the word was mercurial, which means someone who has up and down emotions like the mercury in a thermometer. I said, “Okay, give me an example of someone who is mercurial.”
I'm thinking they're going to say Hitler or Stalin or somebody from the past who really traumatized a nation with their mercurial emotions. And do you know what my students said?
They said, “You, Miss Maples.”
I did not expect that at all, but here's what I did instead of laughing it off in embarrassment. Instead of dismissing it as an insult, I said three words: tell me more.
When they said that an example of a mercurial person was me, I said, “Tell me more.”
Here’s the lesson: Don't take offense. When you get feedback, take notes, because the people around you are people God has given you to refine and perfect you.
You're not just refining and perfecting them. That is happening, but they're also refining and perfecting you. So, invite that feedback and then do something about it.
You have to be willing to hear feedback. And you have to be willing to be transparent, empathetic, and consistent.
You also have to be willing to show up to work again and again. It requires you to come to the proverbial table with your whole self and not just expect that you can be half-hearted and have a whole-hearted result. It doesn't work that way.
So, you have to be willing to struggle, to make mistakes, and to try again. You have to be willing to be humble.
If you’re not willing, then you’ll never get far. Being successful in life, in business, and as a leader only happens when you put in the work even when you don’t want to or don’t know how. When you’re willing, you find a way.
Listening is going to help facilitate all the previous four characteristics because listening takes the focus off yourself and puts it on the ones that you were called to serve.
It's is the only way that you can truly serve people. I've made the mistake of thinking I was serving people when I gave them what I thought they wanted.
People are not served until you give them what they want. You cannot say you're serving if you give another person what you think they want. It has to be what they want.
When they feel they have been served, that's when you've served them. And sometimes you just have to keep going and going and going before you have given them what they want.
Jesus said that service is the definition of a leader. That's being transparent, empathetic, consistent, willing, and a listener. All of those traits focus on others, not ourselves. That is the path to success.
It's taking the straight route to your knees and praying for the people that you are to serve, so that you can serve them. And the way that they desire to be served from a heart that is for them, that sees and cares and loves them the way that God sees and cares for and loves them.
Remember that you have a companion in leadership. That is Jesus. He knows what it feels like to be rejected by His team.
And sometimes that will happen, but you come back anyway, just like He did. You come back anyway. I don't care what's gone wrong in your leadership in the past. Let it be resurrected. The Holy Spirit lives in you. He can make you new. And I believe your best days and years as a leader are still to come.
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