We all know people who know how to get things accomplished through great leadership. These are people who connect positively with others, are confident in their decisions, and ooze courageousness and commitment. How did they get to this high level of inspiration and action?
Some leaders are born with the qualities they need; others have to work on it. Peter Bregman, author of Leading with Emotional Courage, calls out four criteria necessary to lead effectively.
A leader needs to have confidence in himself. Enjoying success isn't enough. Confidence comes from knowing who you are and what you want, and then investing your energy wisely to accomplish the goal. Leaders who are not confident in themselves are often insecure and feel a need to prove themselves. Sometimes they are people-pleasers. But a confident person has firm boundaries, recognizes his own failure when it happens, and then moves on past distractions.
Leaders have followers. That's part of the deal. A great leader connects with his followers (or his team), speaks directly to them, and wisely handles difficult conversations. People have problems, and a leader needs to be there to address problems, even when they are unpleasant. Some leaders might procrastinate and put away a difficult situation for another time, but a great leader connects with every person, not ignoring the problems. This results in trust and respect.
Commitment means having a purpose that is bigger than yourself and driving toward it. Without commitment a leader risks losing the respect of his team. He appears to be acting aimlessly, even cowardly. But a committed leader inspires others to action by being full of action and purpose himself.
Everyone feels vulnerable at some point. A great leader recognizes his vulnerability and takes risks to overcome it and accomplish his purpose. This takes emotional courage. Leaders need to be courageous enough to confront uncomfortable situations, follow through with their commitments, and turn their ideas into actions. Without courage, a leader loses respect and may appear weak and indecisive.
How do you line up against these four criteria for great leadership? Most of us can say we're good at one or two of them, but being a great leader requires all four at the same time. Make a commitment with others to work at these four criteria, and the practice will help build your confidence and courage!
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