Thursday, August 29, 2019

What It Takes to Be a Leader


Guest post from David Nielson:

As a leader, taking on a new challenge, making a change, or leading a team can be challenging. Be it in business or in life, it isn’t just a test of your ability to know what to do. It’s a test of your ability to hold yourself 100% accountable to follow through on what you promise (or commit) to doing.

However, we often get caught up in thinking about getting things done, or looking to others to guide us through difficulties. What we should be doing is committing to taking action ourselves and holding ourselves accountable for the goals we set out to do. We can’t simply rely on others if we expect to be leaders.

To be successful as a team leader, your outcome will be dependent on 3 main aspects:

·         Commitment (to a goal)
·         Focus (on achieving that goal)
·         Force of will (taking action on achieving that goal)

These things don’t happen by accident. You have to make them happen.

So where do you begin? It may seem cliché, but there is a very good reason for doing this. It works. Here is a simple formula you can follow:

·         Write down your goal (you are committed to it).
·         The words you write become a reminder (holding your focus).
·         When you read your plan to reach your goals, you are reminded of what to do (force of will).

Writing Down Your Goal

Start by writing down exactly what you want to achieve, and name a time frame in which you want it to occur. An example of this could be, “My performance evaluation six months from now will have at least two or three comments characterizing me as fun or easygoing, as well as professionally friendly.”

Next, you must have 2 or 3 actions every day to do to achieve this goal. Simply saying “I’m going to be funnier today” is too vague. It has to be an actionable statement, such as, “I’m going to smile whenever I begin a conversation.”

Finally, you must have a way to verify and review the results of your effort periodically. This can be done by yourself or through a colleague who can provide you feedback. From here, you can take the feedback you get and make new actionable changes to your plan.

Holding Focus

What good is a framework or plan if it is buried in a folder or desk drawer?

Out of sight—out of mind.

Once you have created your plan, you must see it as a living, breathing document that you refer to often. You can condense parts from the plan, such as the action steps, and write them on notecards or sticky notes.

Place them on your computer, bathroom mirror, or even your dashboard to serve as prompts for focusing on them. If you are like me, you have a million things running through your mind during the day, each vying for your attention.

Having written reminders is a great way to store information outside all of the brain chatter. The point is that you need your goals and action steps in front of you to be sure they remain a focus throughout the chaos of a typical day.

Force of Will

At the end of the day, being a great leader requires you to be completely responsible for making things happen. But it will never come from the actions of anyone other than yourself.

There are plenty of professional speakers who espouse life-changing ideas and concepts. There are brilliant coaches and consultants who have the knowledge and experience to change people’s lives—but not one of these people or books alone can change anything. They have no mystical power. They are not a pharmaceutical cocktail that can be injected.

Influence Others – Modeling
The other reason this process is so important as a leader is that you are modeling the behavior you seek to see in your direct reports.  It will be much more effective to expect others to set and execute good goals if they see you model it.

There is only one person who has the knowledge, the experience, and the power to be a great leader—the one staring at you in the mirror.


David Nielson is the author of The 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success: It’s All About You! Published by Sound Wisdom. He is the owner of David Nielsen & Associates (DNA). A management consulting firm. David Nielson brings over three decades of corporate, Fortune 500, and private consulting experience in organizational change management, leadership development, and training. David has helped guide large-scale change initiatives and business strategy driven by ERP, mergers, restructuring, and the need for cultural change.

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