There are people who run teams, peer groups, companies and more. But not all of them are truly leaders.
What's the difference? Here are a few thoughts on the matter.
A Leader Inspires By Example
The other day I received the highest compliment from a peer. She had listened to a great podcast interview the renown Anthony Witt had done with me and she said,
"When I grow up, I want to be like you."
This was just a few days after I had received two other similar compliments from other women in my peer group.
What was wonderful to me about these compliments was not that my ego had been stroked (though of course that's always a nice side benefit). What made me the happiest was the fact that I helped enhance these women's lives in very positive ways just by me being me.
I am a strong believer in giving all you can to those around you without always looking for payback. It will come back to you a million fold in a million rewarding ways that you may never have expected.
A Leader is Confident
One of my favorite managers ever gained that title because he is never afraid to admit that he isn't an expert in everything.
Don't get me wrong. He is an extremely smart person.
At the same time, he understands that some people have greater expertise than he in specific areas, and he's OK with that. He either asks for further education on a subject he doesn't know much about or depends on his team to have the knowledge required to get the job done.
Moreover, he's not afraid to make mistakes. He knows he isn't perfect. He also knows his team isn't perfect. As long as folks learn from their mistakes, he is fine with it.
Because he is confident in his skin, he helps his team feel confident in theirs. And because he respects his team's ability to handle tasks, they respect his decisions and direction.
A Leader Listens But Makes Her Own Decisions
Listening to what others have to say is a very important skill. When you encourage feedback from others, you learn immense amounts. Often people come at projects from different angles than you do and may notice things that you never would have.
For example, when someone from customer support looks at your website, they will see different things than the person who comes from sales, who will see different things than the person who comes from marketing. All of these points of view are important and valid.
At the same time, a leader needs to feel confident in making his or her own decisions. Take all the feedback in stride, and then go with what makes the most sense to you. Trust your instincts. Recognize that your decisions may not always be the most popular ones, but as the leader, they are yours to make.
Are You Ready to Lead?
Leadership has its challenges but it also has its rewards. Are you ready to take on the leadership mantel? Let me know about it! Contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter at @HollyChessman and let's lead together.
About the Author
Holly runs Holly Chessman Marketing, a premier marketing firm that provides strategic advice, digital services, and social media guidance and education. Named one of New England’s Top 40 Influencers in Content and Digital Marketing, Holly fully understands the power of online engagement. She is passionate about implementing marketing strategies that result in quick growth, rapid revenue and happy customers. Holly has worked for a variety of tech companies, as well as spearheaded her own marketing consulting firm. She is regularly quoted in a variety of major publications. Holly is also not afraid to embrace her nerdy side (as evidenced by her love of Neil Gaiman and her “talking” TARDIS).