Integrity. Credibility. Respect. These are just a few qualities of a true leader. Anyone can be in a position of leadership, whether at work, school, or a peer group, but it isn’t just a title, lip service or a delegation. It has to come from within. True leaders know who they are and what they stand for; they know their values and the rules they will abide by; and they know and communicate their values openly with those they lead, creating an atmosphere of certainty and trust, says Forbes.
A true leader also:
- Lives the values they profess to believe
- Leads by example
- Works side by side those they lead in order to get to know and care about them
- Inspires their team
- Listens without being condescending
- Is willing to hear what others have to say without judgment
- Is patient and genuine in their thoughts
- Communicates openly and often
- Disciplines with a desire to help others improve rather than from a place of anger
- Gives feedback in a respectful way
- Doesn’t use sarcasm to communicate; this makes others feel uncertain or belittled
True leaders never back down from a challenge. Yes, everyone has to pick their battles, but when their instincts tell them something is or isn’t right, they’ll defend their position succinctly and thoroughly. True leaders also have empathy. That’s because they’re genuine and sincere, allowing them to understand innately what another is going through because they’ve been there themselves. This stems from being true to oneself. Not everyone has empathy, just like not everyone has respect. It has to be earned.
People also ask me, “What is a thought leader?” A thought leader is an informed opinion leader who is the top resource in their field of expertise. They are trusted leaders who inspire people with innovative and unique ideas; but they don’t just talk about it — they turn those ideas into reality. It’s actually a big part of content marketing where you can convey your talent, experience, and passion about what you do. Answering questions doesn’t stem from a fancy degree. It relies on a differentiated point of view that rests with being an authority in your industry.
Thought leaders don’t just talk the talk — they actually inspire change in meaningful ways and encourage others to join their efforts through evolutionary advancements in their fields. Yes, they encourage people to be open to new ways of thinking, but they also create the map by which people can achieve it. This set of best practices creates a foundation for others to build on.
True leaders show others what’s right through actions, not just words. Just because it’s your title at work or you can wear it on a badge, doesn’t mean you are automatically a leader. It’s something to be earned and can’t be achieved through lip service.
[This piece was originally published on Divergent CIO, a blog created by Brian Thomas, VP & CIO at Swope Health Services. To follow him on Twitter, click here.]
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