words by Marius Van der Merwe
You might be wondering why leadership is important, or you might just accept it as a fact of life that we have leaders and we have followers. What exactly is a leader and what does being a leader entail? Can anyone be a leader? And what does it take to become one? Or do you believe you already are a leader? Leaders are absolutely necessary for society to function as a whole otherwise we are a collection of people with no common goal or direction, and what kind of life is that? Did you know leadership could be learned, by anyone? And, with enough practice, you can achieve the confidence that cures fear and realises leadership.
I have summarised 7 Traits that I believe are the most critical for any leader to possess to lead people and be influential in their own right. Read on if you dare.
1. WORK ETHIC
Leaders are hard workers. Leaders are also humble enough to be followers and are led by other Leaders who love hard work. Leaders have the opposite attitude to those who have employee mindsets and are happy working for the man. Leaders don’t try to hide the amount of work they do, neither do they boast, they are humble servants of the grind, letting actions do the talking. Leaders work during business hours and then come home just to go out and spend a bit more time building their future dreams. Whether this be the extras for personal training, the extra Meetings you make with potential Prospects for future Business, or working on your own Self-Improvement; whatever it takes right? Are you a leader or what?
Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying don’t have down time I’m just saying that down time needs to be planned, all these things need set times but do not be too rigid in your approach as we should always be able to be shifted in case a matter is urgent. You will get the negative bystanders who criticise your actions and tell you spend too much time away from family or too much time at work, just be careful who you listen to and make sure that the people you take advice from have the life you want. Hard work is what makes the difference between working for someone else’s dreams and goals and your own. In today’s economic climate it is no longer just a luxury to have some sort of passive or multiple streams of income. It is time to get out there and do some work, to set yourself and your family up for the future - it will make the difference in creating a strong future.
Leaders are Honest people. Some great mentors of mine have told me that if you are not building your own future someone else will use you to build theirs. This is as human nature intended us to be - survival of the fittest. It is important for those whom you have any form of relationship, business or personal, that you are honest not just telling them what they want to hear but also telling them what they need to hear. You need to be honest with yourself about what you can accomplish and what you are doing daily. Is it really what you need to do to have the life you have always wanted? Questions to be asked on a constant basis. More importantly, your followers and the people you follow need to know that you are going to do what you say you will do and they need to trust that you are a leader who is always honest about their intentions. Leaders are the people with the most heart and integrity, so much so that it spills over in all that they do.
3. DON’T QUIT
Leaders never quit. I have definitely thought about quitting on my dreams a few times before but there is this desire so deep inside you that literally nothing will stop you from reaching the success that you desire. At the end of the day you dust yourself off and just keep going. Whenever you face adversity you work harder than you did before because no matter your circumstances if you stay consistent with the right habits, it will grow your leadership skills and work ethic driving you to be successful. It is doing the small things over and above on a regular basis, not quitting on yourself day in day out, that will end up giving you what you want. If there is one thing I learned growing up is that you always finish what you started, you never leave it half done or decide to quit when it gets tough, and I can surely say it has contributed to much of my success. People might try to take it away from you or disrupt your path with distraction. If you don’t quit, those guys who doubted will hear of your success through others who admire you. It’s a daily decision until it becomes a habit, then it is like breathing and you don’t even think about doing what is needed - you just go out there and do it. If someone tells you it can’t be done you want to go out there and prove it wrong. DO NOT QUIT!
4 FRIENDLY PEOPLE
Whenever you hear feedback about your demeanour towards others, if it is overwhelming with praise of what a nice, kind, thoughtful person you are, then you are doing the right thing. If you don’t get any feedback it is probably because you have no respect or do little for others, Change.
It starts with a smile. Always speak to people, always say something complimentary and always be happy. If you are not then that is your problem and not others. Talk to your loved ones or your mentor (highly recommended to have one of these) or a psychologist if it’s that bad, and remember that everyone has their struggles but they don’t need someone else’s negativity to add to their burden. Be a good listener, and not only listening to respond but listening to understand. Have you ever noticed how people often forget someone’s name right after they meet them? This is because they were already thinking how to respond. Don’t be that guy. Leaders know the value of listening, and then truly giving from the heart and at the end of the day this will turn around to pay you back 100 fold.
Successful people are lifelong learners. Leaders read, listen to audios, find time to meditate, experience life. They read books on financial education, relationships, personalities and people skills - something many people lack in this era of technology and social media. It’s all about swiping right on tinder ‘Amirite’. Always try to learn from successes and also out of failures. Failures are only bad when you don’t learn. Failures mean you have experience and more experience is always a good thing. Study people and relationships and what makes individuals tick. I’m not sure if you have attended any self-help or personal/business development seminars but how you connect with people is what will make the difference in your everyday success because in life most of the time it’s not what you know it’s who you know. These skills take learning and practice (lots of practice).
6.’DO MORE’ ATTITUDE
Successful people over deliver. They give you more than expected. Leaders always deliver more than you bargain for, always over deliver on a service or product. Be realistic in what you can deliver and find ways to over deliver on what you said. There is a wonderful book by Harvey Mackay, “Beware of the naked man who offers you his shirt: Do What You Love, Love What You Do, and Deliver More Than You Promise”. Mackay a very successful man and is considered by Fortune magazine as ‘Mr Make things happen’ a leader in his field which is no surprise is it? More about books and over delivering, a while back I read a book called “The 15 Laws of Invaluable Growth” by John C. Maxwell, telling a story of a lady who pressed his suit the day he needed to fly out. He called on the day, booked for it to be dropped off and said he will pick it up on the way to his flight. Not only did that lady who runs the business deliver the suit personally to his door, she did it early and bought a thank you gift for supporting her business. Now that is going above and beyond for the client and will retain business in the long run.
7. SOLUTION ORIENTATED
Successful people always think solutions rather than problems and they find them quickly. What does every situation mean for your business or goals? If it is blocking your path, how do you and what can you use to make a path through, over or around it? Don’t be a victim. Don’t say that’s just life, it’s hard or I can’t. Don’t tell me about things you can’t do because success is achieved by the people who do things others won’t. There are countless stories out there of genuine adversities people have overcome to achieve success so don’t be the one who lets your “first world problems” get in the way of your success. The human mind is a very powerful thing and changing the way you think is important. Anyone can change his or her circumstances but it won’t happen overnight, however you can change your mindset overnight. Where others see problems, be the person who sees solutions.
In summary, even the person you were 5 minutes ago won’t dictate whether you can be a leader or not. If you really want it, go for it. As we said at the outset – commit, then practice and these skills can be learned. If you are looking for support or not sure where to start, then let us know what you’d like to achieve and we can point you in the right direction.