By Britt Carter, Executive Vice President

Leadership is something that seems to be a part of all of our lives, both personally and professionally.  Most people are either a leader of some sort (on the job, as a parent or sibling etc…) or they are someone who is being led by others, or both.  Therefore, we all seem to have our own unique perspective and opinion on the topic.  Leadership is something we can always learn more about.  It is a topic we can continue to investigate over the course of our career with the goal being to challenge ourselves and to grow.

What is a leader?

First let’s looks at what being a leader isn’t. Leadership is not about a title or tenure or salary.  It really is not about power or accomplishments although those things may certainly be a part of leading others.

Leadership is about influence… to be more specific it is about positive influence.  A leader makes things happen and inspires growth in others.  The best way to do this is to put others first and to have genuine concern for the success and progress of those within your circle of influence.  A leader works hard; a leader cares and takes initiative for others. A leader serves others.  Serving others isn’t about what you do; it is more about who you are.  Being a leader therefore must start with having the right mindset and direction.  Your starting point as a leader has to be about one thing.

If you want to really break it down to its simplest form, leadership is ultimately about RELATIONSHIPS.

So, as a leader what is your game-plan to make this happen?

How do you become a great leader?

  • Become genuinely interested in others (professionally and personally).  Ask questions about them and their goals and then identify how you can help achieve them.  Share common goals and become a great listener.  The goal here is to truly connect.
  • Communicate clearly on a regular basis about success, obstacles and solutions.  Have weekly or monthly check-points on the calendar to monitor progress.
  • Be action-oriented.  Stopping thinking about the nice things you want to do (or say) to your people and just do them.  Offer help and assistance on a consistent basis.
  • Teamwork is critical.  We can all achieve greater things by working together and sharing common goals.  Individuals have goals and teams should too.  Foster the relationships of everyone on your team.
  • Humility and Gratitude.  I can’t think of two more important traits for leaders and for the development of quality relationships.  When your team excels it is all because of them and when your team falls short it all comes back to you.  Shoulder your responsibility as a leader and be thankful you even have the opportunity to impact and lead others.  Smile everyday on the inside and out.
  • Positive Attitude.  Look at mistakes as learning opportunities.   Look at weaknesses as growth opportunities.  Perspective is critical for a leader.  Take the words mistake and weakness out of your vocabulary.  Almost all people gravitate and respond better in a positive environment.

How do you measure success of a leader?

If you want to measure your success take a look at your relationships.  What do they look like?  Do you have long-lasting quality relationships? Do you have surface level short-lived relationships?  Do you get extremely excited when you see your people succeed?  Does it really hurt when they fail?

Sure, depending on your industry you have to “hit your numbers” or “close some deals” on a consistent basis.  There is no question that success is also measured by your business being productive and profitable.   My contention is that if you survey your relationships there will be a direct correlation between the success of your business and the quality of your relationships in and around your business.  People who are truly connected and who share common goals and vision tend to really work well together and ultimately end up being very successful (and happy)!

Being a good leader is not easy; but it is simple.  Don’t over-complicate things.  Focus on building quality relationships; that is half the battle.

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