Our Leadership Contest was one of our most popular blog posts to date with over 140 people posting their thoughts on what the central concept of being a leader is. With people from across the country weighing in with their thoughts on leadership, just scanning through the comments you can pick up many nuggets of wisdom. In fact, I felt like I was reading a book on leadership!
With so many outstanding answers, it was difficult to choose the top three. In fact, I called on some of the leaders at Freedom Personal Development to help me pick the winners. Without further ado, here are the top three answers (and some posts that deserve an honorable mention):
Grand Prize Winner of Three Free Personal Coaching Sessions
#68 – Kathy – Her response was:
To be an effective leader, you must be able to EMPOWER those who work for you. Managing and leading are completely different, and leaders must empower their managers and employees to get the job done. Leaders are responsible for empowering others (managers and all employees) to carry out the vision. Leaders should never over-manage or micro-manage, that is not their role at all.
Nice job Kathy for encapsulating what a great leader must be able to do. If you can empower those that you lead they will accomplish much more than if simply given tasks. This insight that Kathy shares with us requires the leader to know exactly what they want accomplished, understand exactly who the best person or team is to accomplish it, clearly define what they would like the result to be and then TRUST that person or team to set forth as they see fit with total ownership. The leader must be on top of their game to pull this off properly, and when they do everyone wins.
Second Place Winner of an “Expect Success” Book:
# 40 – Jeff McElroy – Jeff’s comment was:
Be clear with your intent and purpose and let all your thoughts, speech, actions, and relationships support completion of that mission to the betterment of everyone involved.
A leader with clear intentions and purpose, in all the areas that you described, has a transparency that permeates an organization or team where core values shine through and communication becomes less muddled. When people know where you stand with yourself, it is simpler for them to know where they stand with you. This idea of clean intentions keeps “politics” out of the work place as well.
Third Place Winner of a Freedom Personal Development Water Bottle:
#65 – Jeremy Gilsoul – Jeremy’s answer was:
Failure and success are both illusions. Leadership is knowing that experience both positive and negative is valuable and leads to growth. When an individual is able to let go of observing life in a failed/succeeded manner they are able to accept everything as an experience and an opportunity to continue grow and learn.
Jeremy, I totally agree with you that if leaders can let go of “success” or “failure” as “good” or “bad” they will allow those under their care be able to grow from all of their experiences. John Wooden, the legendary UCLA coach, always talks about ignoring the scoreboard, and judging the experience based on if you did your best or did you do what you were capable of given the situation. The most you can ever do is your best, great leaders understand this and use it to motivate their team through supposed “wins” and “losses”.
Winners will be contacted by email. Watch for the August edition of our newsletter (Thursday, August 14) for another contest.
#67 – Steve Rosberg – Clarity of purpose – in the broadest sense – is the best guide for your actions. Compromise on any issue of principle will entail lasting suffering.
#75 – Amira Elsayed – The One Concept the participants have to know and around which many other concepts revolve and derive from is that of TRUST. If You Establish trust, You Guarantee successful leadership; TRUST is the Key word. TO LEAD, is to Trust and believe in yourself and capabilities, and is to trust and believe in your Staff (and telling them you Do trust them by both words and action.) If you establish this kind of trust in yourself and with your staff, this way. You are playing successfully in a team.
So, To LEAD, is to be a team player
TO LEAD is to the friend, and the Manager
To LEAD is to Motivate all time, and Punish When necessary
To LEAD is to Listen Carefully, and Act Wisely
To be a risk taker, and rational at the same time
To be humble, but confident
To Lead is to play the roles of the PARENTS; BOTH the mother and the father
To manage to Create a Bond of LOVE which is wrapped by discipline UNDER THE UMBRELLA OF TRUST. This bond is never achieved without TRUST.
#76 – Brent Buxton – I believe the number one attribute of any leader is Integrity. As a leader you need to identify your “Moral Code” and stick to it in all situations; that is Integrity. In other words, do as you say and say as you do, or as my mother used to say, “Practice what you preach.” You will see in many of the other answers how people have identified their “Moral Code” and how they live by it. All of them are maintaining Integrity, and because of that, their answers are right on target. Whether your Moral Code includes trust, honesty, teamwork, empowerment, setting the right example or any of the other great examples listed, you must know your Moral Code and live by it at all times. Start your coaching by teaching others to maintain their Integrity at all times.
#85 – Ruth Kuehl – A true leader is a servant. When you help every one to succeed you will be successful. When building a team, getting people who have skills that exceed yours or are knowledgeable about the area that you are working on will make the team more successful. A true servant knows how to set boundaries that releases everyone on the team to do their best because you trust them. That gives them the confidence to have ideas that are not in the box. Giving credit where credit is due can bring the organization, team or business a sense of trust that releases all to do their best and have creative ideas.
#87 – Dave Meyers – The key to leadership is leading yourself. Leading yourself is the most difficult thing to master, and until you’ve done that, it’ll be very difficult to effectively lead others. What do I mean by “lead yourself?” You’re able to effectively lead yourself when you have a clear vision and direction for your own life, a clearly defined purpose for the role that you’ve assumed, and clear values that guide your decision-making process. Of course, there are many other useful concepts that a leader should know, but from my experience, I consider this to be the most important.
#97 – Christy – If you were coaching an individual on leadership, in your opinion, what is the one concept that they should absolutely know? Understanding that our thoughts are the single most important tool we have for success. The power of our mind is limitless, and what we think literally creates what we experience in life. Our thoughts create our lives and become things. There are onlt two types of existence, one is to be a victim and the other is to be a creator of our lives. It all depends on our thoughts.
#107 – Nancy Reiser – The one thing I believe any leader needs to know is that a belief is yourself will lead you on. While you can look to others for guidance, in the end you must be willing to make the decision and believe that your decision is the right one. This alone will allow you the courage to continue your leadership journey, on to the next level. If your decision is proven wrong, you need to take some learning from the experience, and again move on.
#134 – Ken Budka – CLARITY – having a clear picture of what you are doing and why is essential in business and in life. When you are clear and can see where you are headed, the many elements of effective leadership fall into place. You communicate clearly, listen more effectively, and are able to operate with integrity and credibility much more seamlessly when you know and can illustrate the reasons why. Quite often people have a pretty good idea of what they want and why they want it, and will be magnetically attracted to a leader who can help bring their life into focus.
#137 – Leah Strohman – Never tire of doing what is right. Leadership should not be a goal we have; rather an outcome of a life lived boldly.
Thank you to everyone who participated.