What leaders do better …

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Leadership, and becoming a better leader seems to be a quality many aspire to achieve. What is it that makes leaders effective? Here is a list of seven behaviors and traits that all great leaders seem to possess.

They are energy efficient

To be a top athlete – you need to have prolonged and sustained high performance. The sames goes for leadership. Great leaders make sure they manage stress. They take the time out to relax and renew.

They have a passionate purpose

Leaders have the ability to enroll and inspire others to action. In order to do that they have a purpose and passion that is apparent to anyone that comes into contact with them. Having a meaning or purpose is important if you want to enroll others.

They’re funny

When the going gets tough, leaders are able to take things in stride. They often use humor to lighten things up – easing the stress of the people around them.

They make building and keeping relationships a priority

Leaders, especially successful ones, have the ability to nurture existing relationships as well as build new ones. They make time for the people in their lives. It takes a great deal of effort and energy to keep both professional and personal relationships and connections thriving – but successful people make this a high priority in their day.

They play to their strengths

Leaders know what their strengths are – so they play to them. They also have an ability to surround themselves with people who make up for their weaknesses.

They are positive minded

Great leaders manage pessimistic thinking. They are good at compartmentalizing and don’t let adversity in one area of their life seep over into other areas.

The create their own L.U.C.K.

In a leader’s eyes – luck stands for Laboring Under Correct Knowledge. Because they possess both perseverance and passion – they go the extra mile to make things happen. A study was conduced of an incoming class of West Point cadets to find out why some cadets dropped out – while others continued. They found the group who had “grit”. Meaning they pursued goals with passion, didn’t back down from challenges and got up quickly from failure to try again. Researchers found it had little to do with who was more athletic, well-rounded or smarter. The quality of “grit” was a better predictor of success for cadets than IQ. Great leaders are not quitters.

What other traits and behaviors do you admire in leaders?

 

 

Leadership under Fire … What JFK taught us

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JFK displayed all the great traits of a leader … under extreme circumstances

For thirteen days in October 1962 the world waited, seemingly on the brink of nuclear war, and hoped for a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis. A classic case of leadership on the line – the stakes were monumental, there were choices to be made under constraints and only through enlightened judgment and strong leadership was the situation resolved peacefully.

This was the finest hour of the Kennedy Presidency. John F Kennedy, through his leadership, judgment and actions, was able to lead the world away from the brink of nuclear war.

Surround yourself with the very best team

After an American spy plane secretly photographed nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union on the island of Cuba, President Kennedy met in secret with his advisors for several days to discuss the problem.

True leadership most often involves a team. JFK made sure to assemble the best team he could for this crisis. He made sure not to only include people who would think like him. He wanted as many points of view aired.

Be prepared to make unpopular decisions

After the team met to discuss the crisis – it came down to two options:

Surgical Strike: destroy all of the missile sites through a “surgical” air strike before they were operationally ready.

Blockade: create a naval blockade around Cuba to prevent Soviet ships coming through.

 JFK decided for the blockade. This option had some serious drawbacks, most obviously, it did not prevent completion of the missile installations already in Cuba. Most members of JFK’s team favored the surgical strike despite no guarantee that all the missiles would be destroyed.

 Remember your purpose

 When you are a leader – you need to view each decision from all angles.

 JFK was unwavering in his decision for the blockade because he knew the lives of millions were in his hands. Not only would the air strike kill thousands of the Russian personnel who were stationed in or around the installation sites – but it would force the Soviets hand to retaliate. The blockade allowed the US to respond aggressively to the USSR, while simultaneously not pushing the USSR into a corner.

 The ultimate decision for the blockade was taken by JFK, not the team. Any decision is going to have opponents. JFK stood his ground despite overwhelming opposition from Congress, which urged for an air strike – because he remembered that ultimately he had to protect and serve the people.

 

 

The Unlikely Leader …

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Tubman was an unlikely leader

A mentor once told me “if you are look around wondering who the leader is … it’s you”. Looking back through history there are many examples of leaders who took charge.

Harriet Tubman is one great example. Born into slavery in Maryland in 1820, Harriet was raised under harsh conditions, and subjected to whippings even as a small child. The violence she suffered early in life caused permanent physical injuries. The most severe injury occurred when Tubman was just 12 years of age. Sent to a store for supplies, she encountered a slave who had left the fields without permission. The man’s overseer demanded Tubman help restrain the runaway. When Harriet refused, the overseer threw a two-pound weight that struck her in the head. Tubman endured seizures, severe headaches and narcoleptic episodes for the rest of her life.

Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery in 1849 making use of the network known as the Underground Railroad to travel nearly 90 miles to Philadelphia. Rather than remaining in the safety of the North, Tubman made it her mission to rescue her family and others living in slavery. Over time, she was able to guide hundreds to freedom.

What made Harriet Tubman a great leader?

Great Leaders Are Deeply Passionate About Justice

Great leaders possess a strong sense of right and wrong. They believe injustice must never be tolerated. It is this deep-seated sense of justice that spurs them to their initial actions. They have a vision for what their world could be as opposed to what it is.

Great Leaders Confront Fear and Take Risks

It is almost impossible to be a great leader without fear and risk. If it were possible, anyone could do it. It’s easy to see great leaders as fearless men and women filled with a supernatural courage. But this is not at all accurate. It’s not the lack of fear that makes a leader great. It’s acting in spite of the fear that makes them great. Risk will always involve fear and it is the presence of fear that paralyzes so many of us. Only those who acknowledge the fear and still choose to act can hope for greatness.

Great Leaders Don’t Need a Title

Too often, we buy into the lie that to be a great leader requires a position of influence. We think being a great leader requires a title. Great leaders believe they can make a difference without a title. They don’t see titles as prerequisites for leadership. They understand that people don’t follow titles – people follow passionate leaders who believe in them and inspire them to greatness.

 

4 Leadership Lessons from Abraham Lincoln

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There is no doubt Lincoln was an exemplary leader. But what were some of the leadership qualities that CEOs and even Presidents admire and try to emulate? Below are four leadership lessons from the 16th President of the United States.

1. Be honest, above everything else
A recent survey revealed the most important characteristic people look for in a President is Honesty. So it is with little surprise the sixteenth President of the United States was known as “Honest Abe”.
When it comes to being a leader – the most important quality you can have is honesty. Teams will work for someone they trust, so being honest is one of the most important leadership qualities you can have.

2. Don’t surround yourself with “Yes Men”
President Lincoln had the capacity to listen to different points of view. He created a climate where Cabinet members were free to disagree without fear of retaliation. At the same time, he knew when to stop the discussion and after listening to the various opinions, make a final decision. Lincoln was confident enough in his ability as a leader to pull into his inner circle a team that contained some of his rivals from an earlier time. William Henry Seward (who was Lincoln’s main rival in 1860 and later became his Secretary of State) wound up being his most trusted advisor.
Many leaders surround themselves with people who simply tell the leader what he or she wants to hear.

3. Be smart about people
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups. Lincoln had a remarkable ability to communicate his goals to his countrymen, make concepts simple and communicate with an understanding of the concerns of the citizens.
Leadership is all about leading people. The first step in being an effective leader is being able to understand what makes others tick.

4. The buck stops with you
As a leader, you need to be able to quickly share credit when things go well – and take accountability when things go bad.
Too many leaders are caught up in playing the “blame game” when things go wrong. Lincoln saw mistakes made by those on his team as ultimately his responsibility.