When you read this – LEADER
What is the first thing that pops into your head?
Wait, let me guess.
You’re picturing someone in front of a crowd. They’re probably wearing a suit? Maybe you see the CEO of a public company. Obama? Taylor Swift? The Pope?
An endless combination of different personal experiences and beliefs provides everyone with their own unique face to match the title of “leader”, but no matter who it is that you’re thinking of, there’s a good chance that your idea of what a leader should look like is too complex.
Whether it’s Martin Luther King Jr, Tim Cook, or Malala Yousafzai—all of whom could be easily identified as phenomenal leaders—they only account for the tippy top of a very large iceberg.
To be a leader you do not have to give profound speeches, or inspire hundreds of people. You don’t even have to own a fancy suit. According to the wise words of Michael McKinney:
Influence, however, can develop from both the positive and negative end of the leadership spectrum. For example, there have been countless leaders throughout history who have come to power through questionable methods, and you’ll always be able to find a stereotypical high school bully with an entourage of loyal goons. Regardless, the psychology of leadership is extremely fascinating. You may not consider yourself to be a leader, but whether you’re a part of a team, a family, or even a group of strangers, the energy you emit plays a vital role in influencing those around you.
So keep this in mind as you read the following 4 tips to help you become a better and more positive leader in your workplace.
- Don’t complain.
There are generally two common reactions to hearing others complain. It either opens up the doors for a collaborative venting session, or a wave of undisclosed eye rolls. Whether it’s today’s traffic or the deadline you’re struggling to hit, everyone else is most likely in the same boat, but instead just choosing not to voice their opinions about it. A grumble every once in a while is tolerable, and a healthy stress reliever. But generally, excessive complaining does nothing but generate an irritable tension that will turn people away from you and your bum attitude.
“Complaining without proposing a solution is called whining.” –Theodore Roosevelt
- Learn what it means to be the lone nut, or an effective follower.
Leadership is often over-glorified. The role of a “follower” is sometimes just as crucial as the initial lead. I stumbled upon a video the other day of a man dancing alone at a music festival. The person filming probably hoped to capture a new YouTube hit of a bizarre man making a fool of himself, but little did they know that only after a couple of minutes, another man would join in. His daring effort transformed a small spectacle into what would soon stimulate a much larger movement. In less than three minutes, an entire crowd had formed around the original “lone nut,” and as the mob multiplied, people began joining in simply to avoid sitting alone.
If a leader is the flint, then the first couple of followers are the sparks that really get the fire blazing. In reality, an effective follower can transforms a “lone nut” into a leader.
- Value others above yourself— a great leader is willing to be little.
Have you ever met someone who genuinely compliments you? Not as an awkward small talk filler, or a quick “I like your shoes” in the break room, but someone who really lifts you up, and makes you feel special?
Well, the ability to make others feel important comes from a sense of humility and an honest belief in the value of other people. It’s not an easy quality to develop as a leader, but the more you exercise putting others first, the more they will trust you in return.
- Ultimately, people follow other people—not ideas or businesses.
People naturally gravitate towards other people. In the video I told you about, I’m sure that those first followers didn’t get up and subject themselves to humiliation because they particularly enjoyed the first guy’s dance moves, but rather they admired his spontaneity and lack of inhibition.
“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” John Maxwell
The bottom line is that leadership is not a fancy title or position but an action. So get out there, spread some positivity, and bust a move—literally or metaphorically, whatever floats your boat.