Do you have what it takes to be a leader? I’m not talking about being a boss. I’m not talking about having a few initials after your name. I’m not even talking about having a title on a business card. I’m talking about leading a group of people. Do YOU have what it takes?
The dictionary defines a leader as a person who has commanding authority or influence. I believe leadership author and speaker Warren Bennis describes it even better, “Create a compelling vision, one that takes people to a new place, and then translate that vision into a reality.”
When I started working for a small bank as a part-time teller in the late 90’s, I had no idea I would lead others along the chaotic road of the mortgage industry. I had other leaders who believed in me and my abilities, even when I doubted myself. These leaders had a vision they turned into a reality. Their vision, thankfully, included me.
So, do you have what it takes?
Do you have dedication? A good leader possesses the dedication and drive to ensure she performs at a high level. This type of dedication cannot be taught. It is a fire that dwells within. In my own experience, there have been periods of working 12 or more hours per day. I worked those hours knowing the hard work would pay off. It did.
Can you make the sacrifice? How many of you have worked on your day off? A great leader will sacrifice a day off to answer a call or to respond to an email or to spend much of the day helping a co-worker struggling with an issue. A leader knows there will be times he or she will need to go to great lengths to get the job done. At times, family will become second place. When I first started in the mortgage industry, my children were sometimes placed on the back burner. As a newly single mother with two small children to provide for, I knew making the sacrifice would provide a good living for us later. This sort of sacrifice is worth it if it is on a short-term basis.
Do you possess humility? A job is never truly done by only one person. It takes a team to complete the job well. A leader knows it is the team that truly does the work; the hard work is accomplished as a result of her leading the team to make the vision a reality. She knows that without the entire team, the job would suffer greatly. She equips and empowers her team to do their job and do it well.
Do you have what it takes? Do you have the qualities needed to be a good leader? Maybe you do, but how do you respond when you hear news of how others oppose your leadership?
How do you react to opposition? – Leaders WILL face opposition. There will always be someone out there that will want what you have. There will always be someone who thinks they can do your job better than you. There will always be someone who thinks you don’t deserve your role. A great leader doesn’t worry herself with those thoughts. A good leader doesn’t back down as a result of negative comments. A great leader, instead, uses the opposition as fuel to the flame that burns within to prove the doubters wrong.
Being a great leader is about having bold dedication, sacrificing your own desires for the sake of the team, possessing the humility to know it takes a group of people to accomplish the goals not one single person, and proving the opposition wrong. It doesn’t end there, though.
Leaders develop other leaders. Throughout my career, I have had leaders that took the time to cultivate my abilities and knowledge to help me along the path to leadership. They empowered me to make decisions, learn independently, and to perform at my highest potential.
To leave a leadership legacy,
Train them in the proper way of handling issues, communication skills, and customer service priorities. Passing down the knowledge you have is invaluable to a future leader. These employees crave the information you have stored over years of experience. Be open to sharing it with them.
Set a positive example. Unfortunately, there are people in leadership positions at some companies that do not set a positive example for their employees. Positivity leads to increase in positivity to those around us, but negativity has the same effect. Be the kind of leader people want to be around and not avoid at every turn.
Do you have what it takes to be a great leader? Take some time and search for the inner leader within you. Search for the fire that burns within you to want more. Search for what drives and motivates you to be better than you were yesterday. Then pass it on to others.
*This article first appeared in Mortgage Women Magazine on March 5, 2017*