When I was in college I wanted to be a professional golfer. I had the college golf experience and the prior success to support making the leap after school. I gave it a shot and I quickly realized what I didn’t have. A good understanding of what it really took to not just be a good professional golfer, but a great one. My story isn’t unique, there are millions of people that had dreams of having a famous profession; astronaut, professional athlete, entrepreneur, author, youtuber, or politician. What's interesting is rarely do people just dream of being a great leader, but once they settle into a different career that wasn't their dream job, this dream of being a leader springs to life. The thought of moving into a management role, having employees report to them, increasing their corporate responsibility, going on corporate trips and receiving a pay increase are attractive. We call it the PEG Factor.
Providing + Experiences + Growth = Fulfillment
While I don’t think you need permission to lead, I am always excited to hear that someone wants to move into a leadership position or simply become a better leader tomorrow than they are today. The question is, do you know what it takes to not just be a good leader but to be a great leader? If you haven’t thought about it, here is where I would start.
Leadership is about serving not taking. It means being available to people when they need help not when you need help. It means loving people with different backgrounds, priorities, and goals. Yes I said ‘loving,’ I don’t care if you are at work, people want to feel loved and appreciated. If you aren’t ready to love people, you aren’t ready to be a leader.
Some people believe being a leader means taking off time when you want and having other people do the work you don’t enjoy. It couldn’t further from the truth. The minute you begin to lead this way, not only are you abusing the power that comes with the title, you aren’t focused on the people you serve.
I’m not saying you can’t be a realist, but being positive means you see the little bright spot shining through the clouds, not just a cloudy sky. As Jon Gordon wrote in The Energy Bus, “Desire, vision, and focus help you turn the bus in the right direction, but positive energy is necessary to take you where you want to go.” Leaders must be the beacon of positivity and optimism to their people because it’s contagious.
Enthusiasm comes from the greek word entheos, which means “inspired” or “filled with divine.” It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, having an enthusiasm about what you do is required to inspire others. Many people think they are enthusiastic about what they do, but have no clue how much passion is actually required to pass it on to others. If you only have a mild obsession and enthusiasm with your profession, chances of becoming a great leader are slim. The great part is this can grow over time with effort and energy.
Leaders have to make decisions. Oftentimes, the decisions are tough ones that affect lives, relationships, and the future course of events. While I commend your desire to want to make decisions, it’s paramount you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you have a clear purpose, vision, values and beliefs, it makes these decisions easier.
I wrote about the Tony Robbins of Uber drivers, and it showed that leaders are an example whether they like it or not. Every action, word, and mannerism, is observed. If you aren’t ready for that kind of attention and spotlight might want to rethink your desire to lead.
So wether you dreamed of being a professional golfer or President of the United States and it didn't come true. I am excited you have the desire to become a great leader. My hope is even after reading about a few of the difficult things required to be a great leader, you still want it because it’s the most rewarding and fulfilling role you can have as a professional.
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.