What qualities make great leaders? This is an important question, especially in this election year, since we will be electing a new president for our country. Leaders are faced with significant challenges, temptations, and responsibilities at any level. Here are a few qualities I have observed and appreciate of effective leaders:
- Ability to listen and value input, regardless of person or position. Great insights can come from all directions.
- Provides reachable goals and a vision that incorporates the concerns of all.
- Prioritizing– understanding what needs attention and what actions will yield the greatest positive impact. Everything doesn’t need the same time and energy.
- Being pragmatic. A leader must do what is practical, sometimes deviating from the ideal, in doing what is needed. They do this while treating people fairly.
- Does not overreact or make impulsive decisions. Great leaders have an intuitive ability to “wait it out.”
- Positioning people to take advantage of their strengths, like a good coach.
- Builds leadership capacity. Great leaders aren’t insecure about empowering those they lead.
Leaders at any and all levels should embody these qualities. If the person you support doesn’t embody these qualities, then you should reconsider. Choosing a leader, whether it is in your local community or the president of the U.S., should not be taken lightly.
This past Christmas, I, like many parents, spent a portion of my day reading directions and putting together gifts which require assembly. It seems as though it is becoming more difficult to remove toys from packages and put things together, but that’s a discussion for another time. My youngest daughter received a desk for Christmas. The instructions were fairly easy to follow, but as anyone who has assembled furniture knows, it can be time consuming. The last step in assembling the desk was attaching it to a wall. The instructions recommended a specifically sized drill bit to drill holes and attach the desk. Of course, I did not have that size; I had a drill bit that was close to the recommended size. I knew I could not go out and purchase the recommended bit on Christmas Day. I attempted a number of alternatives, hoping they would work. I probably spent an hour or so trying different options, to no avail. After an hour or so, without much more I could do, I decided to try the drill bit I had. It was not the recommended size, but it was close. Guess what? It worked just fine!
We are often looking for ideal solutions to our goals, problems, etc. Many times, the ideal solution is not available. However, we often have what we need within our grasp! Especially in today’s day and age, the right people, knowledge, and skills can be a few clicks of a mouse away. Technology has connected our world and opened doors that were not available several years ago. I did not have the recommended or ideal tool for attaching the desk to the wall, but what I did have was good enough. We may not have the absolute, best resources for what we are looking to accomplish, but we usually have enough to get started. This is a message which especially needs to be conveyed to all, especially our youth. Many come from challenged backgrounds, but there are people and resources that can put them on the road to overcoming their circumstances. We must have the awareness to recognize and share available opportunities and start on the process of success!
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One day, two friends make a pledge to train for a marathon. Neither one is what you would consider to be a runner. Friend # 1 is a slacker, Friend # 2 is overly ambitious and does everything 100 mph. After 2 weeks, Friend # 1 has done absolutely nothing. Friend #2 has trained everyday at peak intensity, but is now in pain and has an injury. Overtraining is just as damaging as doing nothing at all.
Let’s apply what happened to the friends with our goals and ambitions. We do not want to be like Friend #1. We won’t reach our goals if we just sit around and do nothing. We must take consistent action. As the saying goes, nothing changes if nothing changes. However, when we take action, we must be careful not to overextend ourselves. “Doing the most” or doing too much, can be just as harmful. Our minds and spirits can wear down, just like our bodies, and impact our health, spirit, and relationships. Yes, it takes drive and energy to chase your dreams, but 100% on one day doesn’t have to be the same 100% on another day. The best coaches structure their programs to vary in intensity. A team will not have super intense, draining practices everyday. The most recognized organizations in our world today value work/life balance for their employees. Balance and consistency are keys to staying on the path to accomplishment. We must find balance in our lives, which will give us the long term stamina we need to in chasing our dreams and goals.