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.