Effective Leadership: Leave People Better Than You Found Them
“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires but in his integrity and in his ability to affect those around him positively.” ~ Bob Marley
Leadership. A word misconstrued by many. Being a leader entails more than merely possessing a title. Being promoted into a leadership position doesn’t qualify you to be a leader. Neither does having a large staff. It’s more substantial than that. True leaders embody certain characteristics, such as integrity, morals, humility, empathy, and authenticity. A great leader has a clear vision and provides direction. A pathway to the next level. A pathway where no one gets left behind.
“Servant leadership is all about making the goals clear and then rolling your sleeves up and doing whatever it takes to help people win. In that situation, they don’t work for you; you work for them.” ~ Ken Blanchard
The best leaders function more as servants than dictators. They listen more than they speak. They encourage, support, and protect. A true leader is willing to roll up their sleeves when necessary to accomplish the mission, and they’re always looking for opportunities to elevate their team and further their goals. They ensure their team has the resources necessary to make their dreams a reality. Having experienced both strong and weak leadership throughout both my military & civilian career, I understand the importance of taking care of your people. If I felt my supervisor had my best interest at heart, it made me want to perform well. Weak leadership made me feel I had to fend for myself because I knew I couldn’t depend on them. As a leader, you never want to be viewed this way, so it’s imperative you implement a leadership style that reflects the needs of everyone under your charge.
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself. Serve and thou shall be served.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
As a leader, your overall goal should be to leave people better than you found them. This is how you define great leadership. Emotional Intelligence also plays a critical role in ensuring the needs of your team are met. You must be an effective listener, not only to what they’re saying, but to what they’re not saying. If you close your mouth & listen, and pay attention, people will tell you everything you need to know. Pay close attention to their body language, as well as their words. There will be moments when nonverbal cues speak volumes. Verbally, they may say that all is well, but the inflection in their voices, combined with their body language, may be saying otherwise.
“The purpose of life is not to win. The purpose of life is to grow and to share. When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the pleasure you have brought into other people’s lives than you will from the times that you outdid and defeated them.” ~ Rabbi Harold Kushner
As a leader, your primary goal shouldn’t be to succeed at the expense of the team, but to succeed as a team. In the right environment, everyone can get what they need to accomplish not only the team’s goals, but their individual goals as well. In a time where strong leadership is lacking in the world, you can be a catalyst for change. You can set the example for what solid leadership looks like, creating a ripple effect, as your team members move into leadership positions of their own. Make effective leadership a part of your legacy. The world needs it. More than you know.