We all have the potential to become a leader, yet many fall short in developing their ability to become one or to reach beyond the status quo. There are a variety of reasons why this may be so ranging from not knowing what to do to sheer laziness in becoming the best that they can be as leader. If you want to develop your leadership abilities then the five points covered in this article may help you to overcome areas that may be holding you back.
1: Become a Follower.
The heading of this topic may sound counterintuitive to you but consider this. There are potential leaders who view becoming a follower as something beneath them, whereas it is an essential quality for moving forward. There are few if any leaders in the world who have become one without the help and advice of other leaders. Excellent leaders have learned to be excellent followers in their development.
Find yourself a mentor. Follow him or her around. Watch what they do and glean the positive elements of their actions. A leader-mentor is someone who has more experience than you, someone who you look up to and want to be like. Someone who shares your values, ethics and principles.
A mentor will help you become focused and motivated; provide you with honest feedback; teaches you to problem solve and encourages your growth and development.
You need not be ashamed to follow and be inspired by someone. You will learn much more than if you walk alone. It takes a bit of humility to follow someone, but if you don’t you will never have what is needed to guide others. Following a mentor also prepares you to become a mentor of other potential leaders.
2. Be A Continuous Learner.
Make a point of nurturing a growth mindset. You can’t know everything, but you can become an expert in your field. And it is in this capacity that you will be trusted. Open your mind to not only learning the ‘hard technical skills’ in your area of expertise but also the ‘soft skills’ you will need to relate to others. Leadership is about engaging others to move forward, to follow a vision and to have others take action on a shared vision. In order to do that leaders need necessary soft skills to engage their followers.
3: Know your Values and Commit to them.
Great leaders believe in firm positive values. Take the necessary time to uncover your values and then live and defend them. One of the major breakdowns among leaders is that they do not follow the values they preach. This is most unfortunate because followers become jaded, skeptical and seek to remove themselves as a follower. Here are five key values of successful leaders.
4. Become a Public Speaker
One of the most stressful and difficult skills is to become a public speaker. Yet if you want to become a leader you must acquire the ability to speak in front of an audience. There is no doubt that public speaking can indeed be stressful, and even scary, but it’s a habit you have to get into. Public speaking can be learned through practice as many have witnessed, for instance:
5. Passionately Adhere to Your Vision
Spend the necessary time in cultivating your vision – where you would like to be. Followers follow a leader with vision. It has been said that most people like to be led but they only follow leaders who are passionate about their vision. In the process of leading with passion be yourself rather than being like someone else. Let your authenticity shine through your actions and continually act with integrity.
These five steps alone will not make you a leader, but if you master them you will be on your way to become one. A measure of a good leadership is the ability to influence, thus by following these five steps you will learn what it takes to influence others.
Thank you for reading and as always take care, be safe and become the best version of yourself.
Resource: Become A Leader: Find the Leader Within You.
Type in “Leader” in the search bar on the Front Page at www.fontaniemagazine.com and you will find 94 references for leader and leadership.
Leadership is about inspiring, stimulating, and influencing others to have a more satisfying life through what we stand for, what we say, and what we do.
“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Here are three secrets that will make you stand out as a leader.
#1 Learn to Express Love
Now this is something that we are not use to saying. One of my posts garnered several looks when I first published the word love as something that needs to be expressed in the workplace.
The truth is you cannot influence others if they can’t relate to you or if they don’t like you. This is the number one rule in any relationship. If you want to develop a relationship love is at the root. Now we are not talking about romantic love here: we are referring to the love of your work, the love of serving or helping others, and the love of self, for unless we love self if is extremely difficult to love others.
To lead others we need to connect with them. We have to show that we care for them as individuals and as a team. This means leaders have to be vulnerable and show that they trust their followers. If people feel safe with their leader it has to come from the heart. And often when we operate from the heart we feel vulnerable.
Expressing the love of a leader means that you are extending yourself to others and they understand that those expressions come from a genuine place. They know, deep down, that the leader’s intention is to help them succeed in life and that he or she will be available to them in their time of need.
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Leaders will have difficulty in influencing others if they are mediocre in what they do. Leaders need a vision to bring others to a place beyond the present. A leader may not have arrived at that place yet, but they know where they are going and can bring others to a new and exciting end.
“Martin Luther King Jr got a C in public speaking, but that didn’t discourage him because he had dream.” Ljupka Cvetanova, the New Land.
In their quest to bring people along they become role models. To be excellent is to do things where people say to themselves, “This man or women is great. I want to be like him or her.” This means that in order to excel leaders need to become the best versions of themselves. It is through the leader’s behavior that they are known and followed.
To excel means to rise above the norm in work, family and with others. People of excellence are looked up to and followed. But this is not easy, in fact it can be one of the most challenging aspects for the leader. Why? Because this is self-growth and developmental work. A leader must work on him/herself to be the type of person people want to follow.
#3. Support Excellence
Strong leaders are not selfish. They want people to succeed in a way that gives them self-satisfaction. A satisfaction that enables them to give of themselves toward the end where the leader is taking them. In the process the leader is helping them grow and become the best that they can be. A leader does this through their mentorship with them.
Love, the pursuit of excellence and supporting excellence in others are foundational to becoming not a good leader but a great leader. How would you rate yourself in these three areas on a scale of 1-10. And when you rate yourself make room for continued growth and development. It is rare that we have reached the top rung of the leadership ladder.
If you want to learn more about leadership there are two resources in the Storefront, "Love Serves" and "Leader/Manager Masterclass." Just click the links opposite. You can also consider joining Fortis Membership where more you will find several more resources on Leadership and Management.
“Remember people who have helped you along the way, and don’t forget to lift someone up.” Roy T. Bennett
Thanks for reading and always remember
Be Safe, Take Care, Stay Healthy and become the Best Version Of Yourself.
It’s easy to be a leader when things are going right. In fact, it can be downright awesome—especially if your team members are fully engaged, communicating well with each other, and taking responsibility and accountability for their respective roles.
But when your team is faced with serious conflict, wherever that comes from, you need effective leadership skills to hold them all together as a unit. So what leadership skills are required when your team is running into tough times? Here are seven you can call upon.
Grit: Grit is defined as courage, resolve, and strength of character, but the final blend of those characteristics yield a quality that is perhaps best summarized by one word: toughness. Good leaders hold the team together in tough times by staying committed to the vision, purpose and values of the team and the organization.
Grit can also be looked at as ‘tough love with discipline.’ We don’t often use the word ‘love’ in the workplace, but when we strip everything away strong leaders care about their team and deal with each member with compassion and concern. That is an expression of love. leaders want to hold their team relationships intact, so they work hard at a) trying to understand what is going on within their team, and b) fix what appears to be broken or weakened and a way to do this is with tough love coupled with personal discipline.
Positive Optimism: Grit is mostly present-filled while optimism is future oriented. An optimistic leader who has a positive view of the outcome is creating a mental construct for the team to pull through, because they foster the belief that something great is on the other side of the chaos.
Leaders who are positively and optimistically looking ahead and guiding their teams to a new or better outcome do so with hope. Think of Martin Luther King who continued to beat the drum of hope in his famous Dream speech. He painted a picture of a new awakening in America and leading people to a newfound freedom based on the human dignity of each individual.
Strong leaders are optimistic, hopeful and act with positivity.
Realistic Pragmatism: While leaders need to be gritty and optimistic, they also need to be practical. This means that leaders ought to keep hope and optimism tethered to the ground. How do they do this? Simply by using their head – using their intelligence coupled with sound judgement and their experience to navigate their way through the given circumstance.
This is not a time to fall prey to Pollyannaism or put on rose colored glasses. To look at the future with rosy Pollyannaism while dealing with the present can lead to unnecessary and costly mistakes.
Now we know that leaders can correct mistakes, but not being real and not using a pragmatic approach can do more harm to a team’s psyche by unleashing a cynicism, distrustfulness, and incredulity. These psychological factors are much more difficult to eradicate than fixing material and quantifiable mistakes.
Selfless Actions: Selflessness is all about caring more about other peoples needs and interests over one’s own. Good leaders don’t try to save their own skin first, they serve others first. This doesn’t mean they don’t look after their own interests. They do so with their team members interest in mind first.
Good leaders keep their ego in check, act with humility, yet with a confident attitude. Robin Sharma once said, “Leave your ego at the door every morning, and just do some truly great work. Few things will make you feel better than a job brilliantly done.” And for leaders dealing with difficult issues within their team they need to work brilliantly without an overbearing ego.
Encouragement: There are two approaches to developing encouragement. A good leader encourages both self and the team.
Sometimes a leader needs to encourage his own psyche to be up for the challenge of developing team effort. A Leader can and does have feelings of anger, frustration, and disappointment when things are not going right. This is when leaders encourage themselves with positive affirmations or seek help from a mentor or coach.
Then there is the time when leaders need to help the team find the drive to make it through the rough spots. In this situation the leader focuses on the team’s strong points in order to uplift motivation and performance levels. Here the leader’s work is all about bringing the best out of their team members. In essence the leader is showing that each member is valued and cared for. Sometimes encouragement can be as simple as wandering around the group, patting some backs, and giving smiles or saying friendly words. Here the word, ‘kindness’ comes to mind. Encouragement is often expressed through simple acts of kindness and good leaders find ways to express kindness often as they know it is a motivational force.
Preparedness: A good leader never finds their team unexpectedly thrust into bad times without some prior preparation. A good leader has a plan to cover all the possibilities and knows what to do if things don’t go exactly the way they were hoping.
Now preparation doesn’t automatically guarantee success, but the lack of preparedness can certainly increase the likelihood of mistakes or downright team process failure. The trick that leader’s face is to prepare for potential team breakdown while still staying relevant with the present. Dealing with daily realities often make it difficult to focus on what might go wrong, but spending some time strategizing about the possibilities make the seemingly impossible, probable.
Being prepared also means that the leader needs to keep current with leadership techniques. This includes reading about leadership, taking leadership courses and honing leadership skills. The quickest way to get stuck in the past is not to continue to learn and refresh leadership skills. When leaders take continuous learning as one of their habits gain they valuable insights into their own behaviour and the way it affects others as well as how to encourage growth within their team.
Acute Listening: During rough spots team leaders need to acutely listen to their team members. The leader should have two listening antennas up. One to listen to what people are actually saying and the other to listen to what they are not saying. And it is the latter where the leader must pay particular attention.
Often behind what is not being said lurks elements of fear. Fear about the changes that are taking place, job security or dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty about their role or responsibilities.
A danger point for the leader is to make assumptions about what is not being said without checking for understanding through paraphrasing and feedback techniques. Another danger for them is to lead with too much talking. A leader who always talks isn’t listening and when the leader is not listening vital information is missed. As Peter Drucker said, “Listening (the first competence of leadership) is not a skill, it is a discipline. All you have to do is keep your mouth shut.”
As always, stay safe, be well, and become your best self.
Thanks for reading,
PS. Learn to Become A Leader – Find the leader within you.
We normally view time and change in a linear fashion sequentially described as past, present and future. This article discusses change, not as a sequential series of events in time but as an unending spiral of flow that is always evolving in the present. It suggests that when leaders and managers view change in this way, they may be able to more readily deal with the pushes and pulls that it produces.
The spiral of change in the ever present now is the evolutionary process of growth and development. It is rejuvenating, affirming, denying, reconciling and birthing new actuality. It isn’t static, but ever changing, evolving, transforming and taking place in the now – in the present state – in an unfolding now.
Within the spiral, there is no past or future state. The future state only exists as a vision or a picture in the mind of someone who tries to paint possibilities or opportunities in an evolving present state. There is no past state, only a continuing present state. When we talk about the past, we talk about a former present state unfolding. We describe it in the present as memory. Everything exists in the present – an affirmed presence, a transformative present and a transformed present. There is only ‘nowing’ the unfolding memories, possibilities and opportunities.
The Affirmed Present State. In the affirmed present state a leader or group of individuals recognize that something is not right, and that something needs to change. They see possibilities and try to articulate a vision of what might or can be. The future is hidden in the present state, as is the past. They plant a seed of possibilities and rally a core of people around them to achieve those possibilities similar to a gardener who plants a seed and sees a flower or a person who looks at a caterpillar and sees the possibility of a butterfly.
The Transformative Present State. During the transformative present state leaders and leadership teams champion the possibilities – they incubate and forge the dynamic forces to make new things happen. The transformative state occurs in the ever-present state – it occurs now. Deniers want to hang on to their memories of the past. These I call ‘hangers of memories’. Champions of change and hangers of memories cause unsettling forces which result in the disruption of the transformative present state. In the unfolding present, champions of change nurture the seed of possibilities while hangers of memories cling to the status quo.
The New Transformed Present State. In the new transformed present state a new entity or dynamic emerges. To keep to the analogy the plant emerges out of the ground and blooms; the caterpillar becomes the colorful butterfly; and both are realized and affirmed in the continuing present state. The birthing process becomes actualized and what was deemed as a future vision is recognized as a new but continued affirmed present state, that is until a new leader or group see new opportunities and possibilities of a different vision, and then the unfolding of the spiral of change begins anew, but always in the present.
The present affirmed state, the present remembering state and new transformed present state don’t follow a logical sequence as one step leading to another. It is like a spiral where the ‘now’ of the present merges with the now of the memories and the now of the possibilities; where the spiral is slippery and people fall forward and slip back, take detours and come back to the incline of the spiral, get stuck in memories, get fired up in the excitement of what could be; and, where passion burns at both ends of the push and pull, eventually evolving into a new dynamic only to become affirmed, denied and renewed again, yet always presently moving forward with possibilities and bringing memories in its dynamic present unfolding flow.
The spiral of change is a philosophical departure from how we normally understand the dynamics of change. It may help us deal with those who wish to hang on to the memories and those who want to move to a new reality too quickly. Since change always happens in the present - in the now – we can help people clarify and deal with their memories, not as something in the past, but as pictures in their mind occurring in the present. So rather than shutting down people who want to hang on to the past as if it was a period of time, we expose their memories as something real for them in the present; help them let go of those elements of the memory that are not helpful; and, let them vision the possibilities of a new memory. We can also help those who pressure to move too quickly to understand the disruption it causes for those who are struggling with their memories and the impact that moving too quickly has on the transformative present state.
I will continue to update this article so let me know what you think about its content.
Thank you for reading,
Richard P. Fontanie MSW
In a previous post, When Leaders are Caught in the Middle of Change, I pointed out the frustrations leaders have in the middle of bridging the change gap between where they start to where they want to go. There is a lot of wasted energy among all who are involved in the process during this time. Sam Kaner called this time the Groan Zone.
Why do people, who initially appear excited about the prospect of change, baulk and often react negatively half-way through the change process.
In part, it relates to how we shape our reality. We shape our reality with what we perceive our reality to be. Our perceptions of the future are linked to our present thinking; in other words, we agree with only those things we accept and reject those things that don't fit into our world view. We get trapped in the pathways of our mind – through time we wire our brain, so to speak, to think in the comfort zone. Sam Walter Fosse wrote a wonderful poem called the “Calf Path” which I find describes, as a metaphor, how we get trapped in the pathways of our mind. (Find it at: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-calf-path/
We have been so schooled in our thought processes, formed by our experiences, stories, readings, education, and social relationships that we become fixed in our way of thinking. Our existing thought process is our world view. That’s why it is so hard to break out of it and want to remain with “the way things were.
We are reluctant to let go of old ways! We want to hang on to the old paradigm we know. We want to hang on because it gives us a sense of security, a sense of familiarity – it protects our ego. But keeping with the familiar and not letting go also keeps us from committing to the change process.
What happens when this “hanging on” occurs. Fundamentally we find ways to fight or flee change rather than embrace it. Sometimes this takes an overt form and other times a more covert form. We make excuses, point fingers, resist, oppose, attack, resort to mind games, and exhibit other forms of inappropriate behaviour; We avoid getting involved, shirk responsibility and accountability and often give into passive aggressive behaviour. On good days we take two steps forward and then slip backward. We lose the narrative, the vision and fall back to old ways.
A second dynamic relates to what I have come to know as the “arrogance of certitude.” The arrogance of certitude is viewing ourselves as always right. When I think I’m always right I become judgmental, sometimes downright cruel, and do things without thinking of the consequences – or feelings – of the other, resulting in the breakdown in our respect and relationships with each other in the workplace. Again, our arrogance is steeped in the formulation of our world view. Once we get caught up in this thought process we start thinking from a duality perspective, "I'm right, your wrong," "We were better off before. Past is better than future." We stop thinking about the possibilities and revert to what we know and are comfortable with, because, after all, we are right.
A third dynamic in the mix relates to our lack of comfort with "ambiguity." Ambiguity is that sense of unknowing and a feeling of disconnect with what is going on around us. Feelings of ambiguity often lead to anxiety and fear. It becomes the fear of the unknown. We know what we know for sure, we don't know what the change will ultimately bring, so rather then move forward we want to keep with either the present, or the past. We are fearful that we might lose something in the process and we are not sure what we will gain. So let’s not go there.
We come back to the beginning: to change we must first change our thinking – become aware of who we are and how we behave. Opening ourselves to new behaviours means to change the way we think which informs the way we act; and that’s the harder and more difficult challenge. We can't change anyone, only they can change themselves. We can only give them opportunity and it is up to each individual to seize what could be, rather than what is.
For all these reasons, and more, people naturally resist change, they fight it and find ways to undermine it - their mind doesn't want to go in a different direction, because it is schooled in the direction in which it is trained or wired to go.
Many of us hold back, or double down in the change process, or don’t commit to it because it doesn’t fit into what we are use to – it doesn’t fit into our world view; and this is understandable as not to change is a way of keeping ourselves in tact! We protect our way of thinking, our own way of doing things, and so we keep from fully committing to the change process.
This is what happens to some at the beginning of change, but more so when they are in the middle of the change process. People are caught in wanting to go back to their comfort zone or keep their new middle comfort space. They are reluctant to progress further into the unknown.
My next post will begin to unravel what leaders can do to move out of the middle zone and continue to reach to distant end.
Author: Richard P. Fontanie, MSW FCMC
Leaders inspire others by getting them to act in ways they wouldn't normally act. They encourage others to change, innovate, create, and to "think and do big". Inspiration comes from the Latin word meaning to "breathe into" and "to impart a truth or idea to someone". It also has a supernatural connotation meaning that the Spirit moves or animates our lives to achieve a higher purpose. Generally workplace leaders inspire others to reach higher levels of performance so that they can be the best they can be under any circumstance. Here are six ways in which you can develop your ability to inspire others.
1 Live your vision. Leaders inspire others with their vision and values and they show what they believe by their behaviour. It is one thing to articulate a vision and identify a set of values. It is another to let your behaviours tell the story. Behaviours don't lie. Behaviours tell more about us than our words. They show that the leader "walks the talk" to use an old hackneyed phrase. When leaders live their vision and values through consistent behaviour others follow. Pick any leader of note such as Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa, Pope Francis, or Bill Gates and you will find that their dreams are played out in real time through their behaviours. Leaders inspire others by living their vision and values through example.
2 Encourage others. We have a saying in our business, "we have a simple business, but it isn’t easy." When we strip everything away life is simple but often it isn't easy either. Our work too may be simple but it isn’t always easy. There is an ebb and flow in who we are and what we do. Leaders inspire others to become the best that they can be no matter what the situation. Leaders encourage others in the ebb tide, where rough spots occur or when something happens that takes them off course. In these situations it doesn't matter how much knowledge leaders have, people want to know that the leader takes a personal interest in them. They want to know that their leaders care.
3 Inspire oneself. Leaders who inspire associate themselves with other inspiring and successful leaders. They enjoy reading about inspiring people and try to emulate their behaviour. Inspiring leaders know that it takes effort to inspire. They hang inspiring posters (and change them up on a regular basis); save inspiring quotes and post them for themselves and others to read; align themselves with inspiring mentors and coaches; and work hard to build up their work environment and avoid tearing it down. Inspiring others comes from within and leaders find ways to nurture and develop their inspirational self.
4 Tell stories. People are interested in life stories told in a compelling and clear manner. Story tellers get boring facts out by weaving facts with examples - they paint a picture letting the facts tell the story. Facts become part of the story. Someone once said, "facts tell, stories sell." Along with the story come pictures or graphs that add an explanation mark, a surprise or a call to action. Story tellers are not afraid to use parables or analogies to get their point across. Leaders are not afraid to share their own stories about how they dealt with similar situations, not to brag or boast, but to humbly explore and inspire others to reach a higher level of performance. Great teachers tell stories so do great leaders; they paint vivid mind pictures that others can visualize, latch on to and act with renewed confidence.
5 Challenge people. To rise up to the top or become the best that one can be requires challenges. If we look to those who have succeeded in sports, arts and business we see that they constantly challenge themselves to reach higher levels of performance. They are not satisfied with the status quo. Leaders challenge others to improve behaviour, overcome obstacles and to rise above mediocrity. Strong leaders challenge others with empathy. They confront with care or to use a term first coined by Dr. Harris Stratyner, PhD, they use “carefrontation”. Stratyner uses carefrontation as a route to healing additions but leaders can easily apply the concept as they challenge others to take on new behaviours.
6 Share Your Reading. All leaders are wide readers. They are informed and when they read something that will help others they are willing to share what they have read with others. They willingly share a book, an article that has given them insight into an issue or just simply inspired them.
Build your inspiration muscle by exemplifying your vision and values, encouraging others when they’re down, giving yourself an inspirational boost, telling vivid stories, challenging people with care, and sharing what you read with others.
Author: Richard P. Fontanie MSW, FCMC