How do you define leadership? Some define it as the ability to influence others through trust that has been earned over time. Strong leaders know how to inspire their team to keep moving forward in spite of problem seekers who toss up one obstacle after the other. Others identify leaders as individuals with inner courage to stay true to his or her personal values. To do what is right even if it means making an unpopular choice. Accepting that going against the majority could mean losing friends or a seat in the inner circle. George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King are all examples of truly great leaders who lived and died for causes they were passionate about.
Life is replete with every day people who like these extraordinary individuals, somehow find a way to achieve the seemingly impossible. The Christian faith brims with individuals specially chosen by God to carry out a seemingly impossible mission. Each, at one point or another, asked God how such a thing could be done in the face of great adversity. God’s answer was always the same. He told them not to fear because He would be with them. To take nothing on the journey. His grace was sufficient. The Blessed Mother, the Apostles and the Saints obediently answered in faith and forever changed the world as a result.
And what about you and me? Do we have what it takes to lead?
Count on life to present us with difficult situations that will surely reveal what we are made of. We don’t have to be a politician or the CEO of a big company to face the true leader’s test. Tests of leadership come in all different types of situations. Take for example the typical office meeting. No one wants to be the first to weigh in on an important decision that has to be made. The boss chooses not to influence the group with his/her own view and waits to hear what the team thinks should be done. Silence hangs in the air as eyes dart around searching for the voice who will speak first. That gut feeling inside tells you what to do yet you aren’t sure to go with it because your colleagues might not agree. Do you speak up and pull the silence out of the air or do you take the safer route and wait until someone else makes the first move? Or perhaps your child is complaining about being picked on by a kid at school. Turns out that the bully’s father is the soccer coach for the team your child is trying to join. What would you do? Do you bring the issue up knowing full well that doing so could decrease your child’s chances of making the team?
In times like these, true leaders listen to their heart – that inner guide leading them to do the right thing. Leadership means sacrifice and to be a strong leader, one must be ready to give up the security that comes with the status-quo. Choose your friends and advisers wisely. Keep your inner circle filled with individuals you can trust to give good objective advice and support. Washington had the loyalty of the trusted LaFayette. Always remember your family is your ultimate support system. They will be there to remind you of what really is important and what they know you value. George Burns had Gracie, Bogart had Bacall and Mork always could rely on Mindy’s candid advice.
Yes, the qualities of a leader are many. I hope that sharing my thoughts on some of the most important qualities needed to lead are helpful to you in some way. Courage, Confidence, Faith, Trusted Friends, Ability to Listen to Your Own Voice – and a Vision.
Let me know what resonates with you when it comes to leadership.
Who do you admire today?
What is it about them that makes them a leader?