Should YOU be the Leader, Lead by Example, A Shift in Power

Lead By Example, A Shift in Power

“The mediocre teacher tells.  The good teacher explains.  The superior teacher demonstrates.  The great teacher inspires” – William Arthur Ward

Setting-ExampleWhile most of us have a concept of leadership, our view of how leaders behave is skewed among each of us whom judge.  I am a believer that defined, experienced and dedicated leaders are those that Lead by Example.  The concept of “Leading by Example” sounds simplistic, but in the end is of the most complicated characteristics of any leader.  It is always easier to point fingers, pass responsibility, accountability and to direct others to do things differently.  The real shift in power for leaders who lead by example is they give the power to those that follow.  Let’s think of some examples where this leadership strategy can work.

First and foremost, lets look at the make up of the mother and father at home.  If mom or dad are fighters, or if there is not a routine for cleaning the home, or perhaps there is not a loving or nurturing environment, is that leadership over their children going to turn kids toward love, routine, sweetness to others?  Perhaps it is possible for a child to overcome the flaws of their in-home leaders, but we all know that when we see the fight of the child, we don’t have to look much further at “who” is leading them to know where they get it.  Parents who teach their children by shifting segments of power back to the kids like decision making over household rules, meals, homework, etc. will teach children how to be leaders themselves.  When we empower our children to work through problems, take time to communicate and listen, we give children the meaning of real “power” and in return create strong leaders.

In the professional world it can work similarly as, leaders are required to set an example on a regular basis, but fail all too often.  Just like the parents in the household leaders have to set examples that they expect from those who are working with them.  Leaders in our history have risen and fallen, usually through tough ethical decisions that caused a great deal of burden on those who followed.  As leaders, we all have made mistakes in our lives, the key is, did we learn from it?  Will we repeat it?  Will we teach it?  I am not claiming that as leaders we can always be perfect, but I do believe that we must possess the qualities of an “example” that others respect.  Good leaders duplicate themselves, they teach others, and they shift their power to the people in the field which allows for new ideas, expanded vision and opportunities for growth.

In my work, I describe my own inner circle of leadership and have commented to my team that I can only have people working with me who are teachable, take initiative, remain loyal, are disciplined and have positive relational skills.  These five qualities are not an option for the teams I work with and in order to receive it as a leader, I must give it as well.  I have made many decisions surrounding people in my 20 years of YMCA work and I know today, through my own failures and successes, that success will be defined by the “shift in power” that takes place when others are empowered to do their work and when they see success.

In John Maxwell’s book “Talent is Never Enough” he explains, “Talent might get you noticed but it won’t keep you there.  Success requires hard work.  To achieve the effectiveness you need to turn talent into results.”  Maxwell identified 13 choices you can make to maximize your talent.

  • Belief lifts your talent: Lack of belief in yourself can act as a ceiling on talent.
  • Passion energizes your talent: A passionate person with limited talent will outperform a passive person who possesses greater talent.
  • Initiative activates your talent: Socrates said, “To move the world we must first move ourselves.”
  • Focus directs your talent: Attempting everything, like attempting nothing will suck the life out of you.
  • Preparation positions your talent: Becoming more intentional. You can claim to be surprised once; after that, you’re unprepared.
  • Practice sharpens your talent: Practice demands discipline and embracing change.
  • Perseverance sustains your talent: People who display perseverance keep a large vision in mind as they toil away at their craft or profession.
  • Courage tests your talent: As we develop our talent and grow to our potential, we will be tested continually. Courage is an everyday virtue.
  • Teachability expands your talent: Teachability is not so much about competence and mental capacity as it is about attitude. It is the desire to listen, learn and apply. Talented people can be the toughest to teach because they often think they know it all. It’s a problem of pride.
  • Character protects your talent: People cannot climb beyond the limitation of their character. Talented people are sometimes tempted to take shortcuts. Character prevents that.
  • Relationships influence your talent: Life is too short to spend it with people who pull you in the wrong direction. And It’s too short not to invest in others. Your relationships will define you.
  • Responsibility strengthens your talent: Responsibility not only improves your life, but also will improve the life of those around you.
  • Teamwork multiplies your talent: Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect.

As leaders we have opportunity to set the path, lead by example and shift the power to the people who follow.  When leaders become one in themselves it is not possible to listen, to expand ideas and the question will remain…SHOULD YOU BE THE LEADER?