8.26.2008

The Characteristics of Leadership: How Do You Measure Up?

Throughout history there have been millions of people who have been called a leader to the point that the title has lost value. Why? Because when you take the time to read some of their biographies there is no sign of leadership qualities in their existence on the Earth.

Today, youth are confused over what makes a true leader versus a fraud because they believe that a person who can excite a crowd with eloquent words is a leader but they are gravely mistaken. External dress attire is not the key nor is it the amount of money in one’s pocket. Bookstores are filled to the roof with books on leadership, management and influence but one critical element excluded from most best-sellers is service.

Contrary to popular belief, the true measure of a leader is based upon how well that person serves other people and not themselves. Imagine going to a restaurant and you see spots on your fork, dirt in your water, soil on your napkin and the food taste horrible. Then politely you asked the waiter to correct your issues and he or she tells you “That’s not my problem!”. How would you feel? Would you go back to that restaurant? Would you recommend it to your friends? Of course not, because you have high expectations of service.

Let’s flip this scenario. What if you went into that same restaurant and were giving the waiter a hard time. You complain about any little thing but all the waiter kept replying was ‘Yes sir. I will handle that for you’. How would you feel then? You would probably feel awful because the pleasantness of that waiter over powered your arrogance. Service is the key element to be a leader.

Whether you are the high school football captain, the head cheerleader, the college student body president, or sitting at the helm of a major corporation, you can not call yourself a leader if it is not rooted in serving the people whom you claim to lead.

There are no born leaders but they are developed. The acquisition of knowledge is a never ending life journey so one great writer said “every time I meet someone he or she is my superior in some way”. Meaning there is always someone under you that can teach you something because we are all uniquely created. There are no two raindrops, snowflakes or blades of grace made alike hence all human beings have inner qualities that we can all absorb energy from like a covalent bond.

Service is defined as a contribution to the welfare of others, the work performed by one who serves and a helpful act. You can’t be a servant if you think you are better than the next man or judgmental towards people based upon their lack of material possessions. When was the last time you gave a person a compliment? How about a thank you card? Fed the homeless? Visited an elderly shelter? Inspired someone to be better? Mentored a youth? Or just said thank you?

Leaders of a business go into the trenches with their employees to make sure they are meeting their needs so they can produce for the company. A head coach knows how to bring out the best in his players to create championships teams. Are you a servant of the people? That’s the true measure of leadership and it takes time to qualify oneself to be declared one.

But if you have to say you are one, then more than likely you are probably not.



Take this Leadership Appraisal!
(Please rate the following questions with: 1-Always 2-Usually 3-Sometimes 4-Rarely)
1. Do you put the needs of your subordinates above your own?____
2. Do you visualize or identify what is necessary for the long-term success of your organization?___
3. Do you regularly involve those under you in planning for the future?___
4. Do you encourage and inspire everyone to give his or her best?
5. Do you assist others in satisfying their needs?____
6. Do you hold people accountable for their actions?____
7. Do you treat everyone in a fair but firm manner?____
8. Do you set realistic performance standards?____
9. Do you insist on excellence?____
10. Do you keep your word?____
11. Do you give credit to those who give great suggestions?____
12. Do you bring out the best in others around you?____
13. Do you award achievement of those under you?____
14. Are you humble when dealing with others?____
15. Do you keep subordinates informed?____
16. Do you listen carefully to others?____
17. Do you establish deadlines for yourself?____
18. Do you own up to your mistakes?____
19. Do you maintain an open mind to others ideas?____
20. Do you maintain a pleasant and cheerful attitude?____