Let’s talk about leadership.
Leadership is a word that gets banded around a lot. We work it into every interview answer possible and wouldn’t dream of writing a résumé without such a vital buzzword. But aside from being an overused term on The Apprentice, what does real leadership entail?
Leadership is the ability to impact others and influence them for good. Most of us would like to be able to do that. Whether you work in a leadership position, or simply care about people, leadership is important.
A question I always pose is, “How are you impacting your students?” You can influence someone’s life in either a positive or a negative way. You choose which one.
Leadership is not a position. It’s the ability to obtain followers, create trust, and have a positive impact on those around you.
Here are 6 characteristics of a great leader:
1. Integrity. Integrity means doing the right thing regardless of circumstances. If you promise that you’re going to do something… do it! Your students need to know you have integrity in order to build trust in your leadership capabilities.
2. Faith. People, especially your students, need to know that you have faith in them! Try to focus on the good things you see them accomplish, building them up a little each day. This will nearly always encourage them to continue improving.
3. Listening. Listening is absolutely vital to solid leadership. You need to be a good listener, even when faced with criticism, whining, tattling, complaining, and crying! (Hopefully those will only be an issue with children…)
4. Understanding. Always try to understand where people are coming from. Is a child crying all the time because they are hungry? Why does that one child pull away every time you go to give them a hug? Before you can affect people, you must first understand them.
5. Guidance. Effective leaders will make students (and people) feel better. Proper guidance doesn’t involve forcing people to do things—it means naturally directing them toward improvement and success.
6. Empowering. When you lead people effectively, you make them feel like they can achieve more than they could before. Good teaching and positivity will drive people to try harder and do more, thus, empowering them.
What do you think makes an exceptional leader? What qualities have great leaders in your life had that were unique or special?