In this next part of the series on BE-Attitudes, I want to share 5 key values that I feel are essential to great leadership. For part one of the series on BE-Atttidues: Everything I needed to know about business I learned from my kids, click here.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams
I love this quote by John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States. As you read through the five BE-attitudes of successful leaders, you will note that the focus is on values and on your state on mind. Leadership is an attitude more than an action plan. To be a great leader, you have to be authentic, to show up as yourself. You don't have to be a dictator. Being a great leader is about pulling everyone up with you. Yes, being innovative and visionary are critical to successful leaders, but they open the way, set the tone and then allow others to blossom with them.
Over the years, I have been involved in many charitable organizations and networking groups and am a business owner. I have watched leaders and been one myself. Leaders surround themselves with great people that they trust and rely on. The best leaders I have worked with have been the most generous, have stayed out of the way of their team and have been great listeners. One charitable organization I sat on the Board of Directors for recently hired a new Executive Director, who came from the private sector rather than from a non-profit background. She took what she had learned from managing teams and leading sales and took a long look at this organization. I watched her enter a troubled, financially struggling non-profit organization and turn it around from the inside out, not because she was heavy- handed but because she was kind, generous, non-judgemental and a great listener. She took the time to talk with all the of the staff, the donors, people in the community and the Board of Directors to get a clear picture of what needed to change. Once the action plan was in place, she implemented it without any negative fallout, even where it was necessary to dismiss employees. The organization is now a happy place to work and is able to focus on it's true mission, caring for children, rather than on survival. Her ability to lead and her strong work ethic were essential to rebuilding this business. She embodied the five BE-attitudes of successful leaders and it served her well.
BE-Attitude #1 is Be generous.
Whether you are already at the forefront of any family, organization, business or community project or are just beginning to build your reputation as a leader, remember to be generous in the way that works for you! If you are a new business owner just starting out, be generous with your time. Meet with people, go to networking events, volunteer, join your local Chamber of Commerce or the local PTA if you have children. Be seen in your community! People will take notice. Generosity and involvement can quickly build your reputation and increase your credibility as a local business owner and community leader. Generously share your information and ideas with others, information is powerful and can help others grow as well as educate them about how to help you. I recently read a great article about Wal-Mart's efforts to go green. They opened their doors to experts and environmentalists, shared what they were doing and asked for help in improving their efforts. Their generosity earned them big Brownie points and some great publicity.
If you can afford it, be generous with your money. This could take the form of charitable donations to your favorite non-profit or small gifts to clients and employees. Hand-written notes, shared articles or homemade cookies are all simple examples of ways to be generous.
As a leader, there are additional ways of expressing generosity besides time and money. Say thank you often to clients, family members, friends and others who support or help you in your business. Be generous with praise but also be honest in your praise. Take someone out to lunch, just because you like them and not because you want something from them. Make an effort each week to practice being generous! Something as simple as a fifteen-minute conversation with your spouse, child, or business partner can make them feel special.
Practical Action Step: Give someone in your circle of friends, family or colleagues a gift this week just because you can. Find a small token of appreciation and point out to someone what a difference they have made in your life, just because you can.