Two Simple Ways You Can Become a Leader

(By Bruce Kasanoff)

There are all sorts of leaders, from strong and charismatic to quiet and effective. But the good ones bring people from where they are to where they want to be. The bad leaders crave the limelight, the power and the prestige. They spend less time helping others than consolidating their power. This is not the way to lead.

People have written gazillions of words about leadership; that is not my intention. No, my goal today is to provide you with the shortest, simplest path to becoming an effective leader.

Once you get past all the bluster about leaders having vision, voice, guts, charisma and numerous other superficial characteristics, leadership comes down to something pretty darn simple:

Leaders focus on what other people really want, and actually help them get it.

Even if you do not fully understand your CEO’s vision, you hopefully have confidence that if you do what she says, you will continue to earn a good living and be respected within your company.

When 30 neighbors gather to tackle a problem that’s been plaguing their community, the odds are that they will identify a leader who they perceive is best able to help them eliminate the problem.

There are all sorts of leaders, from strong and charismatic to quiet and effective. But the good ones bring people from where they are to where they want to be. The bad leaders crave the limelight, the power and the prestige. They spend less time helping others than consolidating their power. This is not the way to lead.

So, if you aspire to be a leader, you need to master two skills:

1. Understanding what people want

2. Learning how to help people get what they want

To accomplish the first, you must learn to listen and observe. It is just as important to learn from what people don’t say as from what they do say. You need to know that people can’t always enunciate their desires, fears and objectives.

As you become a leader, you also need to protect yourself against the excessive deference that some people pay to anyone they perceive as being powerful. This can be like protecting yourself against crack cocaine, because we all have egos and it can be addictive to be surrounded by people who tell us how smart and talented we are.

To help people get what they want (#2), you have to pick one or more strategies that work for you and then – this is the important part – persist in following that strategy.

People can’t follow a leader who flip flops from one strategy to another. They cannot trust a leader who is warm and fuzzy one day, but cold and aloof another. If you are unpredictable or erratic, you will not be a good leader.

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, or the best-looking, or the best-educated.

To be a leader, understand what people want and help them get it.

(Source: Forbes)

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