I define a leader as someone who's actions inspire, empower, and serve in order to elevate others over an extended period of time.
In an effort to help provide you the best pieces of leadership advice I have learned it's important to keep in mind the things you do, are the things that matter most. The best leadership advice revolves around you and your actions.
No one can take ownership of the mental and moral qualities distinctive to you. Stories of people in leadership positions making questionable or downright poor decisions are constantly circulating through the media. The danger is, they begin to seem normal and even expected. What's even more alarming is those making the poor decisions often don't pay an immediate price.
Each day, you may come across a decision that tests your character. An immediate gain or the idea that you won't get "caught" is tempting, but your decisions can have negative ramifications long beyond the moment, impacting those who had little involvement in your decision-making process. Only you can see who is really staring back at you in the mirror. When making decisions, consider why you're making them and what will happen in both the long and short term. Lastly, don't forget the famous quote from General Robert Caslen, "If you fail at character, you fail at leadership."
A mentor of mine once told me, "Everyone's going through something whether you know about it or not." For some, this might mean addiction, marital issues, behavioral issues with children, personal depression, loss, or other struggles.
Everyone on your team is going through something. Take this into consideration every time you enter into a conversation with them. While you can't fight their battles for them, you can be kind and empathize.
Henry Ward Beacher said, "Greatness lies not in being strong, but in the right using of strength. He or she is the greatest whose strengths carries up the most hearts by the attraction of their own."
Your greatness as a leader won't come from gaining power (promotions, titles or earnings), but instead collecting the hearts. What's ironic is the best way to collect the hearts of your team isn't to wield your power but to share your own heart in an authentic way.
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is thinking they can't lead until they get the big promotion. There are literally hundreds of opportunities each day where you can choose to elevate others right where you are.
One of the most memorable pieces of advice I got was during an episode of the Follow My Lead Podcast from former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, "If not you, then who?" Choose to lead right where you are because there is no one better than you, right now.
There is nothing worse than someone who inserts themselves into positions of leadership simply to achieve their own agenda. Usually it's camouflaged as a good deed for others, but in reality, it's to boost their own ego and complete things in their best interest.
If you are going to change the way you lead, it's imperative you set aside your personal agenda. This doesn't mean you can't achieve things or accomplish personal goals, but it means your heart has to be in the right place when you step into positions of leadership.
In the business world filled with President's clubs, awards, and bonuses, it's easy to begin to believe that only some are meant to be extraordinary. But no one is ordinary and each person needs someone in their corner to give them a standing ovation.
While I am not in the camp of handing out participation trophies, I do believe in leaders investing in and showing each person they are made to do something extraordinary. Inspire and motivate your people every day. Sometimes, all they need is a little spark from someone else to make it happen.
Why is it we can hear praise from one hundred people, but the one negative comment is the one that sticks with us? One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is taking it personally when they lose a team member. Having 100 percent buy-in rarely happens (if it does at all). Just take a look at the CEO approval ratings on Glassdoor.com.
While this can be tough to hear, don't waste time and energy on people that aren't putting in the work and rejecting the mission the team is on, it's a losing battle. If you've put in the effort and they're not giving back, move on. There are too many great and capable people in the world who want to get better to waste any more time.
Lastly, leadership is a journey, not a destination. Your best days leadership days are ahead of you if you want them to be.
John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College.