Semester has started up, and you know what that means! A blog post about leadership, obviously. I have been challenged to reflect on my definition of leadership and give some essential traits and characteristics that I believe are essential to a leader. Before I begin, let me give some back story to my definition may have been formed.
I grew up in a family that ran a business. My mother and father began making chocolate in their kitchen and over the last 40 years, many losses, and much hard work and sacrifice, have grown this into a sizable business. Watching my father lead his crew and business most definitely wore off on me, and while in college I started my own media production business. While I have this business of mine, I only do 1 or 2 projects a year, and no longer employ anyone but myself. Having this business taught me a great amount about leadership. Being on a set with 30 actors, 10 crew, clients, and a business partner, forced me to take lead of highly stressful situations. These leadership skills eventually led me to becoming the Vice President of our family business, a position I never thought would come to fruition. If there is anything that forces someone to learn to lead, it is having the jobs and livelihood of 100 + employees and their families in your hands. I am not saying all of this to proclaim that I am a great leader, I am saying this to give some insight into the areas of a person that I now realize are expected of a great leader.
First and foremost a leader must have integrity. If you cannot trust someone to keep their word, or follow their own beliefs, then you cannot trust them to lead you or your team. A leader must also be a visionary, and be decisive to stay on track with the vision. Thinking outside of the box, or having a creative vision is what brings the people around you onto the same page and joins them in a mission. Nobody will fully follow someone who is simply leading them to the status quo, but they will follow someone who is leading them into new frontiers. A few key traits that are key to being a leader, yet many books or articles on leadership leave out are: passionate, servant, humble, and being a good listener. These may not seem like STRONG leadership qualities, but they indeed are. As a leader, it is often hard to remain humble and act like a servant, but the greatest leaders realize that without the team behind them, they have nothing. Dave Ramsey sums up the servanthood part very well in his book EntreLeadership, “I am serving my team by leading them, just like a parent serves their children by parenting them.”
I can ramble on for days about this, but I will sum this up in the most simple way I can. When I think of Jesus, he was the perfect example of what a leader should be. He led his disciples, yet he also washed their feet. Leadership by example.