The scale of our leadership is determined by our willingness to lead by example.
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Authentic leaders lead both themselves and other people as they lead by example. Authentic leaders create more leaders, opposed to a mere following.
Leaders who are secure in who they are don’t need respect, they don’t demand respect, they earn respect. Genuine leaders have a means by which they communicate their vision articulately, and in a way that can be visualised by others. Authentic leaders don’t need to be followed.
The most successful leaders spend more time do’ing than talking. They are contagiously passionate about what they do and in turn, know how to combine their vision, talents and efforts towards driving themselves and others towards a pre-determined goal.
Leaders create an opportunity for other people to lead. Cowards need to be in charge and need the affirmation of others to keep them on an even keel.
Here are five sure ways to lead yourself (and other people) towards a heightened state of success in life:
Don’t Think Too Much
Moving fast ensures that we can outrun doubt, fear and indecision. In 2004, I chose to leave my relatively secure job as a Combat Engineer in the British Army. Having spent almost 9 nine years in the army, I don’t know much else apart from military culture. This scared me.
At the time, I knew many other guys who were also disheartened with their military service, but not all of these other guys chose to terminate their service. Most of them chose job security over personal freedom. Those who prefer job security over personal liberty aren’t leaders – regardless of their rank or status – they are cowards.
If we want to lead, inspire and move others to action, it’s crucial that we move fast, don’t think too much and silence our inner critic. Once we make our move, we can’t look back! Stepping out of the comfort zone will often inspire others to do the same. Lead by example.
Embrace Success and Failure.
The road that leads to success in life is narrow; it’s difficult to follow, and not many people take this path. There are constant ups, downs, highs and lows along the way that are sent to de-rail us. The road to nowhere is flat, easy to follow, and most people take this way as it comes with the least resistance and struggle.
Most people are petrified of failing in life, they fear the unknown and are scared to take risks. What these people fail to understand is that failure arms us with the crucial life lessons which move us up onto a higher lever of maturity, character, decisiveness and strength.
Nothing fulfilling happens outside of the comfort zone. The more we are willing to learn from our failures in life, the more equipped we are to turn opportunities into great successes.
A wise man once said; “Most people complain about not having enough opportunity in life. The problem is that most people don’t recognise opportunity, as it comes wearing overalls and disguised as hard work.”
Take Calculated Risks.
The greatest mistake we can make in life is never to take any risks. Most people assign danger to risk, where others assign excitement. Excitement and danger go hand in hand, as do fear and security.
Having helped hundreds of people to understand what their values and priorities are, I’ve grown to recognise the correlation between risk, uncertainty, excitement and fulfillment.
When people don’t risk stepping out of the comfort zone and into the unknown, they will experience little excitement or fulfilment in life. Individuals who live like this are often perceived as being dull and boring. Inspirational leaders aren’t dull and boring – but are usually the ones who have learned to become comfortable feeling uncomfortable.
At the age of 16, I left everything I knew behind to join the British Army. At the age of 24, again, I left everything I knew to learn the British Army and determine my path in life. Ironically, it’s this path that most people ask me to help them find for themselves today.
Leaders lead by example, leaders initiate, leaders take risks. Cowards don’t.
Combine Faith & Action.
All great leaders have a vision which they can clearly communicate to others. It’s this vision that pulls them out of bed in the morning, and it drives them to take the kinds of risk that most people won’t take.
Authentic leaders will lead by example and not by the mere use of their words. Actions speak louder than words, and having a vision can be great, but without execution, a vision is meaningless.
Execution demands faith – not in a religious way – but an action-focussed drive towards a predetermined outcome. Many people consider faith to be a belief, but it isn’t. Faith is a verb, it is a doing word, that inspires other people to take action.
Faith is the opposite of fear, and freedom is the opposite of security. The main reason why many leaders aren’t respected today is that they choose security over freedom, and fear over faith. Faith is inspiring. Faith is an action. Lead by Example.
First, Become Change!
In our lives and in the context of the groups or organisations that we lead, change will not happen until the leader commits to change. A leader will not undertake to change when security and fear are his or her primary objective.
If people aren’t moving forward, they are moving backwards, and in the same way, if a group or organisation isn’t growing, it is dying. If a leader is unwilling to change, he will eventually become stagnant and even culturally irrelevant. What is true for leaders, is also true for those that follow them. The selfish leader is unaware of this.
Gandhi once said, “Become the change that you want to see happen in the world.” This truth has never been more appropriate in the world than what it is today. Many leaders will moan and complain about the economy, the banks, taxes, staff, productivity, etc. but it’s crucial that as leaders, we accept the truth, that nothing will change until we do.
So, to summarise, live with purpose, intentionality, inspire others and lead by example in all areas of your life. If you don’t, you aren’t a leader.
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