What True Leadership Isn’t

November 02, 2015

I don’t walk around flouting my knowledge of leadership because Greek mythology has taught me far too much about hubris. With that said, before I offer you advice on leadership, let me establish my experience. I have taught for 9 years, and any teacher who has made it beyond year 5 is a leader, without any other qualifications necessary. I spent four years as a Coordinator of Student Activities, leading student government and forming them into future leaders. I also have a second masters degree in Educational Leadership. While most of my experience is in education, true leadership is universal; the skills can be applied anywhere.

1. Leadership isn’t passive aggressive. If you have an issue with someone, speak to them directly. If you have a criticism of someone’s work, speak to them directly. Writing a Facebook post, or hanging a note in the break room, criticizing the work/comments/etc. of another is not the way to address an issue. If there seems to be a problem, speak to a person one-on-one; don’t embarrass someone by airing your qualms on a public forum.

2. Leadership isn’t touting your leadership. Yes, maybe you’re the boss, maybe you’re in charge of this project, or maybe you’re a CEO with devotees who fan you with giant grape leaves – If you can only thrive by sucking the life out of others, you are not a leader; leaching power from crushing others is acting more like a vampire. To lead, you must first follow.

3. Leadership isn’t your way or the highway. There are other opinions besides your own, and decisions usually affect others. You must consider the unintended consequences of the decisions you make. To do this, you have to view leadership as stewardship; you are guiding others, not demanding from them. One of the most important jobs of a leader is empowering others.

4. Leadership isn’t favoritism. Of course, there are those who are shining stars who deserve tons of accolades, but those people started somewhere. Favoring only the same people over and over again may make you rise in their perspective, but you are limiting the potential of others, but especially yourself. Leaders know that there is potential for greatness in everyone, and supporting each individual’s strengths is what makes everyone grow.

5. Leadership isn’t directive. As a leader, of course you have to make decisions and give directions, but you need to have experienced it first. As a leader, you are a teacher; you must not tell, you must show. Think of it this way – I can explain to you that gravity is Earth’s pull toward the center, or I can show you a book dropping to the floor. Teaching someone how is leadership.

6. Leadership isn’t easy. If it’s easy, then you’re doing something wrong. There are days when you will make mistakes, there are days when you will feel exhausted. Leadership is self-awareness with the humility to recognize your faults and apologize if necessary.

There are so many aspects to being a fantastic leader; that’s why not everyone makes the cut, BUT, that doesn’t mean everyone doesn’t have the potential to lead. A successful leader in both the publishing world and business world, and a friend of mine, Kayla Fioravanti, recently published a blog post with a Big List of Inspiring Business Books. If you are in a position of leadership, or want to be, I suggest starting with the aforementioned points, and continuing your education through these books. I wish you all luck in leading, and invite comments and questions below.




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