Can anyone become a Leader?
This is a controversial topic…
A leader is born or made up? As many things in life, we believe is a mix of both things.
Not anybody can become a leader, but neither everybody with the right “nature” can success becoming a proper leader.
When becoming an entrepreneur, you suddenly realize how important is leading projects, taking decisions and to make everybody feel enthusiastic about the challenges.
Act as a true leader is very important, but nothing can guarantee you can learn how to do it.
Then, how on earth can we be here teaching “how to become a leader?” It sounds a bit pretentious, but it is not our intention.
We want to share with you all the behaviors we have found (during our professional career) that characterized the best “leaders” we have personally met.
* These characteristic-skills can be somehow related with the “delegation skills” we explained in the “Delegate” page. If you have not visited it yet, we encourage you to do so. Together you can start figuring out how a good entrepreneur should behave.
What do leaders do?
As we have just mentioned, you need “something else” in order to become a leader, rather than just “following a script”.
However, if you want to improve your leading skills, it is never late for doing so.
Then, what characterizes a good leader?
So far, we have identified the next 7 skills that we’re about to explain:
- A leader listens.
- A leader is continuously learning.
- A leader delegates.
- A leader admits when he/she is wrong.
- A leader is always aware of the matter.
- A leader takes responsibility.
- A leader shares the victories.
Now let’s explain these skills in detail:
1. A leader Listens
When you are leading any situation, you must, first of all, listen to anybody with good information.
A good inspiring leader is aware that he/she doesn’t know everything, so is open to hearing different standpoints about certain topics.
Listening everybody doesn’t mean you have to trust any information you hear about, or doing what anybody says.
You must carefully listen to everything, but obviously, you have to filter the useful information from the useless one.
If you think that you already listen to everybody, think about it twice: few people really do it.
Don’t forget, the perfect “recipe” for failure is don’t listening to nobody.
2. A leader is continuously Learning
Don’t settle for what you currently know, the times change vertiginously.
What made you success yesterday may not be there tomorrow, so keep learning about new trends, technologies, and social changes that may be useful for your business.
We mentioned the Blockbuster and Netflix examples in the “PESTEL analysis” page: How a profitable billion dollar company got broken because it wasn’t willing to consider purchasing a new company with a new innovative movie-rental approach called Netflix.
As an advice, sometimes you may find answers and unexpected opportunities by reading about non-related topics, such as general news, cooking blogs, a philosophy book… so don’t narrow your options to just business-related information. Awake your overall curiosity!
3. A leader Delegates
Delegating is one of the most important skills you should learn, not just for improving in your professional career, but also in your day a day. That is why we have a whole page talking about Delegation.
* In the “Delegate” page you will find a detailed explanation about how to delegate and why is it that important.
4. A leader admits when he/she is Wrong
In this life there are two difficult things you should do before die:
- Raising and educating your kids properly.
- Admit that sometimes… you are wrong about something.
Yes… it is difficult to really admit being wrong, but it is among the most constructive things you can do both for yourself and for making a project to progress.
5. A leader is always Aware of the matter
If you are leading a business project, you should always be aware of everything.
It doesn’t mean that you have to decide everything (as bad leaders do) but being 24/ 7 connected to the project requirements:
- If anyone is extra-working, he must feel that you are behind him: reading immediately the e-mails he sends you, giving good feedback about the work done, suggesting changes…
When someone works “under your command” he must feel that you are a big “umbrella” that is covering everything.
Imagine that you had to develop a task during the weekend but your boss, who commanded you to do so, is playing golf, not picking up your phone calls at all.
You would not be truly loyal to that boss since he/she is not being loyal to you.
Be careful! What you should not do is pushing everybody 24/7: then you’ll become a bad leader.
You must support your team and show interest in what they are working on, being there for them, in case they need you. But please, don’t be annoying, that is awful.
6. A leader takes Responsibility
Taking responsibility, on the other hand does not “always” consist on assuming all the mistakes no matter how big they are or who committed them.
You must support your team, but you also have to be tough when it is necessary.
When difficult times come, you must be ready for “placing all the pieces at their right place”:
- Assuming the mistakes committed as a team.
- Giving a fair but tough feedback.
- Explaining to the team how wrong a past decision taken is.
- Firing people if it is necessary.
This doesn’t mean to be unfair or cruel: When a tough decision is properly made, your team will understand it no matter how hard it is.
Most people ignore it, but it is much easier for a leader to assume personally a teammate’s failure and continue being kind with everybody, than being tough with him in order not to have this issue repeated again in the future.
Don’t forget that the leader’s main purpose is guaranteeing that a certain project is successfully developed. And it implies taking difficult decisions and assuming important responsibilities.
7. A leader Shares his/her victories
“Victories have many fathers while failure is an orphan“. – Napoleon Bonaparte.
A good leader, shares the good moments as well as the victories accomplished so the team feels valued.
One of the most miserable things a bad leader can do is assuming the victories are due to his/her actions not taking any responsibility, however, when the bad times come.
If you don’t forget the mistake done by somebody when it caused you a problem, neither should you forget his work when it made you success.
So far we highlighted the best behaviors you should have when leading.
Now we want to propose you some good habits that may improve these leadership skills.
Some of these habits have been proven in different projects developed, so give them a chance.
4 Habits for improving your leading skills
You can’t expect to, miraculously, become Bill Gates by following these advices, but if you make an effort, you may see interesting improvements in both you personal and professional lives.
1. Start a hobby where you lead a group of people
Do you like playing football (soccer), tennis… Warhammer?
Pick up the phone and start gathering your friends organizing the match, the event… and do it at least once a week.
You must become the “organizer” and the “centre” of the activity:
- Picking the right emplacement.
- Guaranteeing the assistance.
- Booking equipments.
By doing so, you’ll start taking responsibility of a group of people, so it is the best opportunity for practicing all the “leadership” skills we mentioned before.
2. Try finding joy in something you don't like
It sounds weird, but if you think about it, some of the most important leadership skills are related with doing things you don’t like.
We don’t expect you to choose something disgusting, but try:
- Watching a sport you don’t like.
- Learning bout the best players.
- Seeing a match once a week.
- Picking one team to become a supporter.
- Appreciating modern art nobody understands (we, at least).
- Experimental movies.
- Abstract paintings.
- Read a book about a topic that doesn’t excite you.
- It completely depends on the person.
By doing this, you’ll exercise your tolerance capacity, but also you’ll find out that sometimes, what you initially expected to be something useless or boring can become an interesting option.
This will teach you to be open to listening other opinions different than yours.
3. Start claiming to customer services
Please, do not turn yourself into the kind of unbearable person nobody likes.
Sometimes, when leading people, you must frequently disagree with your teammates (remember, always with good manners).
That is something unpleasant for most of the people, and you should get used to it.
Leading people is assuming that occasionally, people won’t like your position.
By “Claiming more” you’ll get used to face uncomfortable situations.
But again, do it always in a respectful way, and only claim in things you’ve got a real reason for claiming.
4. Assume more decisions in your day a day
This is a very generic “advice” but, if you are the kind of person that likes everything; all the movies, all kind of food… It is easy to end up agreeing in everything with your friends or family since you really enjoy in almost any situation.
These kinds of people perhaps feel sorry when deciding certain things, and the more they get used not to decide anything the more difficult will be for them to lead in future situations.
If this is your case, from now on try sometimes, for example:
- Choosing the next movie you will all see (with your family or friends).
- Deciding the restaurant you will go with your friends.
The more decisions you get used to take, the easier will be for you to assume responsibilities at work and decide accordingly.
Whether you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur or if you don’t want to settle with your current job position, you will surely need to start leading in certain situations, so the sooner you start practicing the better!
Nobody knows if a leader can be made or it is genetically determined (at least, we don’t know it) but during our professional experience we have identified certain skills a good leader tends to present:
- Listens to the people surrounding him.
- Is willing to learn about anything at any time.
- Delegates properly.
- Admits when he/she is wrong about something.
- Is always aware about the matter he/she is leading.
- Takes responsibility.
- Shares the victories.
We propose you to exercise 4 habits that will help you improving these skills:
- Start a hobby where you lead a group of people.
- A sport or an activity that requires certain frequency.
- Try finding joy in something you don’t like.
- You must learn to adopt new perspectives.
- Start claiming to the customer service.
- Being a leader means to struggle with positions you don’t like.
- Assume more decisions in your day a day.
- Forget about agreeing in everything and start taking the initiative.
Although it may seem not that important, when becoming an entrepreneur, you’ll have to start leading your project and taking important decisions so, analyze yourself and improve what should be improved.