Do you hear that? That whisper. The quiet voice. Somewhere inside we are all leaders just wanting to come to the surface and shine. Most, if not all entrepreneurs hear this inner voice louder than others. Some hear the calling early in life where others hear it later on during their golden years. We all have leadership qualities and desires. It is just how we encourage this skill or nurture it to come forward.
When one of my kids claims to not have heard what I said to them. I ask them “Do you have your listening ears on?” Most times they just roll their eyes at me. As leaders we always need to have our listening ears on and activated. Working with our employees, contractors or clients we need to be able to recognize and distinguish between the whispers calling for support and the subtle innuendos given by their non-verbal communication cues indicating their dislike.
Being able to pick out the differences can make or break a client relationship as well as develop loyalty within the ranks of your employees. Our non-verbal communication accounts for 93% of what we share with others and it is what accounts for the success of our interactions. Being able to “read” people, their cues both physical and oral can allow you tap into and nurture those leadership skills buried deep down inside.
Is it true that leaders are born not made? Or are they made and not born? Well, it really depends. I personally believe we are born with leadership qualities. It is our upbringing, opportunities, and behaviour modeled to us that impacts if we step into a leadership role. A leadership role of course which society defines for us. Even if we are not a C.E.O. of a company, a manager of a store, or even a shift manager of a restaurant; we lead in some way or another in our lives.
Ask yourself this: Did I make a decision today without asking someone else? Most likely you did. This means you stepped into being a leader of your life. Leaders are not only those running companies; they are individuals who take control over the decision making in their lives. If this translates or transitions into being a leader of some capacity in their career – awesome! Redefine your definition of leaders regarding the capacity or title they hold. Reflect this back onto yourself and see how your leadership skills can be enhanced by this new perspective.
Most business people strive and yearn to be the top dog of a company. It is a badge they all crave to wear. So what happens when you arrive? You are the person in charge but what next? There are so many ‘exit’ strategies leaders take to gracefully retire from their position. The big question really does not pertain to you as the leader and what you are going to do. It has to do with the who is coming next behind you into the leadership role.
Succession planning is a topic that can be discussed separately until the end of time. That topic is as deep as it is wide. But for just a moment, one of the keep decisions all good leaders end up making is their last. Who succeeds them as the next leader? Your definition of the new individual’s personality, experience, knowledge base etc. will be your most important. This is something you need to think about even as you are climbing the ladder of success. The skills you nurture along the way will help with this decision. Your experience will support the decision. And ultimately identifying the person to succeed will be a feather in your leadership cap.
Ready to Lead?
Honing your listening skills from early on is your first critical leader task; embracing your own leadership qualities and nurturing them thru continued education is your second. Continuously watching and empowering others who may follow you is your third. Great leaders are not just born, they are also made. Made, developed thru hard work, dedication and courage to take the steps necessary to let their inner leader out.