I have been accused of being a leader. The word has been tossed my way enough lately that I stopped dodging it and let it splat right in my face. Why am I a leader?
First, I gathered all the other words that people say defines a leader.
… inspiration, imagination, vision, mission, goal, courageousness, inspiring, fair minded, competency, honesty, listener, analytical thinker, ambitious, enthusiastic, wisdom, belief in others, calm, team builder, communicator, know self, relationship builder, confidence, optimism, dedication openness, creativity …
I guess people call me a leader because I possess many of these qualities. I’ve always been creative, goal-oriented and a natural communicator. The rest of these characteristics are a result of being stubborn, nosy and a know-it-all (or if I don’t, I learn.) Leadership qualities aren’t innate can be learned.
In the past few months, I’ve studied a local leader – in professional sales training, in a procrastination workshop and in his radio interviews. Tom Cox teaches leadership to CEOs and business owners, but that’s not what intrigues me about him.
Tom’s manner, listening skills and astute questions are magnetizing. He seems poised and fearless. Tom seems flawless except that he uses his flaws to educate. When Tom explains the importance of systems in his life, he first illustrates his life without organizational tools. He says he lacks discipline and is easily distracted. Plus, he succumbs to bad habits. To combat these destructive traits, he studies systems, leaders and successes. He interviews leaders, blogs about their systems and shares their successes so WE can improve.
This is where our traits intersect. I also covet the lessons of leaders, healers and innovators. I put courage in my heart and fear the icebox. Most importantly, I am honest and transparent about my faults, weaknesses and doubts. I will tell a room of strangers that I struggle with frustration and negative thoughts.
Yet, like Tom, I’m not complaining. I’m sharing to grow; to be educated and to educate. I learn how you battle negative traits, mimic your successes and then tell others. I set goals and fail. I set them again and make it.
We need leaders in families, groups, religion, government and work places. Even born leaders must work to improve themselves and their habits. You and I can both be great leaders if we do three things.
1) Be stubborn as hell. Tom recounted how Winston Churchill had a terrible stutter and was told to seek work that didn’t require talking. But he was stubborn as hell and look what happened.
2) Study yourself. Who are you? Who do you want to be? Where do you need the most improvement? Can you learn from events in your life or do you taint life experiences with unnecessary judgments?
3) Seek knowledge in others. As babies we learn by watching, listening and imitating. Why do we stop? Regardless of your leadership level, there is plenty more to learn.
Thanks Tom, for leading by example.