Being the Leader You Want to Be
Leadership. Companies rise by its success, languish by its mediocrity and fall by its failures. Being a good leader requires many different and hard-to-foster traits: intelligence, empathy, creativity, consistency, foresight, patience and more. Without knowing how you want to lead, however, many of these critical traits will be difficult to achieve. (How can you be consistent without knowing your own rules? How can you motivate without knowing what drives you?) Therefore, the first goal of any leader should be to define how you want to lead.
After deciding “the how,” there of course remains the task of following through with those decisions—making conscious changes to your personality, learning your limits, and trusting others. It’s a long and daunting list, but with a little soul-searching and dedication, it’s one that can absolutely be achieved.
WHAT MATTERS TO YOU
The first step to defining yourself as a business leader is determining what matters to you. The question can be simplified into two smaller ones: What matters to you right now, and what’s going to matter to you forever? Dividing it like this is mostly a way of reaching an answer more easily, but it also illustrates an important point: Part of who you are as a leader should always be in flux.
Gregg Emmer, chief marketing officer, vice president of Batavia, Ohio-based Kaeser & Blair Inc., explained. “Each situation a person finds themselves in will dictate the importance of leadership skills and what is important in that specific situation,” he said. “If the area of focus is business, then sales performance and the ability to help others improve is very important. If it is problem resolution, than empathy certainly will be higher on the list.”
The flexibility Emmer describes simplifies the issue of being the leader you want to be because in some ways, the answer is always going to be “I am the leader my company needs today.” If one day it’s a drill sergeant, you’re that. Tomorrow, it could be motivational coach, mediator or strategist. So to some degree, deciding what matters to you as a leader is less important than determining the immediate needs of your company, and how you can fulfill them day-to-day.