Once upon a time, an army lost its way into the forest. As the chill in the air turned to debilitating frost, it seemed unlikely that the soldiers would survive the night. Devoid of hope, emaciated, and freezing to death, they did not know what to do and where to turn to.
This is when their commander brandished the map tucked inside his kitbag and outlined the route they have to take and marched briskly towards it. After reaching the camp safely, all the soldiers were amazed to see that the map didn’t even refer to the location they had arrived at. The vision of the commander helped him take the reins and lead the troops out of trouble.
No matter how times may change, some things are immortal. Here are some golden rules of leadership that are still as pertinent today as they were centuries ago.
1. Set an Example for Others to Follow
“Lead from the front-but do not leave your base behind.”
Whether you look at any modern day leader or a leader from the past, they all possess a common leadership trait of setting an example for others to follow. They are not one to shout out orders comfortably from behind their desks. Good leaders do not tell you what to do; they show you how it is done. When followers see you getting your hands dirty, they buy into your vision and get the much-needed inspiration to achieve the unthinkable.
2. There are no Shortcuts to Success
If you think that you can become a successful leader overnight without much effort, it’s time to come to from your trance. The road to successful leadership passes through pits and thorny paths. Nelson Mandela had to spend 27 years of his life in prison and still managed to liberate South Africa’s population from the chains of racism and slavery. Leadership success depends on how many times you can bounce back from setbacks and failures. Do not get bogged down by the hardships that befall your path. Instead, use them as a source of motivation and inspiration to push harder.
3. Cultivate Collaboration
“If everyone is moving forward together, success takes care of itself.”
– Henry Ford
No matter how good you are at what you do, you cannot achieve everything on your own. You need a team which is united for a common cause and gels in together to work towards the achievement of that common objective. Create an environment that fosters collaboration and enhances team cohesion. The better your team collaborates with each other, the easier it will be to achieve your goals. Keep a close eye on anything that could decimate your team cohesion and eliminate it before it takes root. With a host of digital tools such as an online task management software and collaboration tools, you can easily keep all your team members on the same page.
4. Swap Fame with Change
“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
—George Bernard Shaw
Change is the only constant and you cannot afford to overlook it as a leader. Unfortunately, modern leaders chase after fame, which somehow eludes their grasp. Instead, they should embrace it with open arms.You might have to contend with resistance from your team when you try to implement changes, therefore, you should start with yourself before letting it trickle down to others. Mahatma Gandhi never chased fame and always focused on serving humanity and awakening the Indians to strive for independence. He summed it up brilliantly when he said, “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world.” When your followers see you adapt to change, it will be much easier for you to convince them to follow in your wake.
5. Have a Vision and Plan
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Vision is what differentiates a leader from a follower. A good leader comes with a clear vision and persuades others to believe in it as well with the same passion. Having a vision will not guarantee you success until you have a solid plan and strategy to turn your vision into reality. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Combine your vision with a plan of action and you will get one-step closer to converting your vision into reality.
6. Keep Learning and Developing
“Once you stop learning, you start dying.”
Even if you have reached the pinnacle of your career, it does not mean that you know everything and can stop learning. Great leaders incorporate hours of deliberate learning in their daily schedule. There is always room for some improvement, no matter how good the results might be. By staying in the learning mode all the time, you can reach your true potential and also inspire your followers. Instead of being a rigid leader, you are better off with a more progressive mindset in order to succeed as a front-runner in today’s dynamic world.
7. Personal Integrity and Character Never go amiss
A great leader never asks his followers to follow, but followers do so out of sheer respect and free will. It is the impeccable character and the charismatic personality of a leader that pulls followers like a magnet. Character and integrity are two qualities that define great leaders. They never compromise on it even if they have to suffer due to it. As Orrin Woodward puts it, “Leaders always choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong.”
8. Overcome Obstacles with Determination
“When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.” A good leader is well aware of this fact, which is why they are the embodiment of unflinching determination. Jack Ma is one such role model. His life was dotted with failures but his “never say die attitude” and resolute determination helped him become the richest man in China. Followers look up to their leaders, and if they find leaders struggling to cope up with difficult circumstances, it can demoralize their spirits. On the contrary, if the leader shows resolve and never gives up, it will breathe new life and energy into followers.
9. Give Credit, Don’t Take It Away
Arnold H Glasgow defines a good leader as, “Someone who takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of credit.” As a leader, you should be the first one to recognize, appreciate and reward your followers instead of hoarding praise. This helps to keep them motivated and inspired. On the other hand, if you take all the credit for their efforts, it can send negative vibes to your followers. They eventually start to lose interest in your vision and refrain from giving their best, since they know their works will never be accredited to their names.
10.Prepare Future Leaders
Last, but certainly not the least, is to prepare the leaders of tomorrow. It is the duty of a good leader to pass on the torch and nurture future leaders from the team so that the good work continues. Identify people that have the potential to be future leaders and assign them leadership roles to gauge how they take on. Your legacy will never die if you prepare a leader that picks up from where you have left off and takes your mission forward.
Which laws of leadership do you follow? Feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.