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What gives a man or woman the ability to lead? Having position, title, rank or degree doesn't qualify anyone to lead other people. The ability doesn't come automatically from age or experience. No, the key to becoming an effective leader is not to focus on making other people follow but on making yourself the kind of person they want to follow. You must become someone others can trust to take them where they want to go. As you work toward becoming a better leader, the following guidelines may be useful.
Become a Good Follower First
To become an effective leader, you must learn to become an effective follower. Today's generation of employees seem particularly aware of this because title and position mean less to them than they did to previous generations. They are more willing to recognize and respect the authority of those leaders who are also willing to pitch-in and help-out during challenging times.
Model Positive Behavior
Very few employees are willing to truly respect or follow an uninspiring leader. Leaders who earn the admiration of their employees give their all to what they do. They bring into play not only their skills and talents, but also their passion and hard work. They perform on the highest level of which they are capable.
Rely on Strength, Not Emotion
Leadership is often easy during good times. But, when everything seems to be against you - when you're energy is low, and you don't want to lead – that’s how you earn your place as a leader. During difficult workplace circumstances, leaders face crucial moments when they must choose between accepting the challenge or giving up. To make it through those times, rely on your strength, not on the emotions that difficult times bring.
Give Your Power Away
One of the ironies of leadership is that you become a more effective leader by sharing the power you have, not by saving it for yourself. If you use your skills and resources to empower others, your leadership will expand in a positive direction. With courage and character, employees recognize the true leader’s admirable qualities and become more willing to follow them. Employees who look to these leaders learn from them, and so can we.
Make Service Your Goal
Truly great leaders are not in leadership for personal gain. They lead in order to serve others. When we think of the leaders whose names are revered long after they’re finished leading, we find that they were men and women who helped people live better lives and reach their potential. That is the highest calling of leadership - and its highest value.