[November 9, 2019] Leadership isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would do it. It’s a difficult and often thankless job that requires more than just hard work and perseverance. Beyond fostering traits like charisma, passion, and emotional intelligence, there are a few things you can do to help yourself lead smarter.
That’s a question with no easy answer. Some people might say charisma and expertise. Others might say passion and humility. Still more might say knowledge and wisdom.
In truth, leadership is all of the above – and more. Being an effective leader means putting your people first, sure. But it also means understanding yourself and working to foster the characteristics that will really allow you to shine.
Here are a few ways to get started in that regard.
Never Stop Learning
There’s an old saying that applies exceptionally to business leadership, even though it was coined centuries ago: “A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
As a leader, I’ve no doubt you’re good at what you do. You might even be the best. But you must never let that go to your head.
Be a guide, a teacher, and a friend to your team, but never discount the fact that they might teach you something. Openness to new ideas and perspectives is one place many leaders fall woefully short. Show the people you work with that you’re willing to listen to them – really listen.
Beyond that, you should constantly strive to teach yourself new things about your industry and career. You should constantly be on the lookout for inspiring men and women who might show you how to be better. The day you stop learning is the day you’re no longer a leader.
Take Care Of Yourself
You cannot care for your team if you aren’t capable of caring for yourself. That’s why, as a leader, you must ensure you’re physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. You owe it to both your team and yourself.
To that end, establish a meditation routine. Make a point of getting a good night’s sleep every night, eat a balanced diet, and follow a strict exercise regime. Stay healthy, and you’ll be able to do a much better job across the board.
Acknowledge Your Own Failings
I’ve already touched somewhat on the importance of constant self-improvement – our last entry further focuses on that. The most important thing to understand is that no matter how good you are at your job, you aren’t perfect. You have shortcomings, both personal and professional.
Maybe you tend to overlook small details. Maybe you’re more irritable than you should be or tend to hold the people around you to abnormally high standards. Whatever the case, awareness of these failings is the first step towards overcoming them.
More importantly, by acknowledging that you’re a flawed human being and not some perfect paragon of leadership, you’ll keep yourself humble and grounded – and believe me when I say that people respond better to humility than they do to arrogance.
Leading By Example
A good leader possesses more than just charisma and expertise. They possess a deep understanding of both their team and themselves. More importantly, they’re constantly working to improve.
The advice I’ve outlined here provides a good starting point – some good habits to help improve your skills as both a leader and a professional.