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So You Think You Could be a Leader? Seven Things to Ask Yourself

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is the first woman to be elected President of Croatia. Serving since 2015, she is the youngest person to ever enter the office. She also served as Minister of European Affairs and Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy at NATO. She remains the highest ranking female official to have served within NATO, and is also known for her strong sense of personal style.

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If you’re even an occasional writer, then you may know what it’s like to be filled with a clap of emotion, as your inner pluck rises in search of a shore, with an urge that only ceases as you yield your mind-works to the canvas of a blank page.

This morning, I was struck with this feeling, and pressured by the thought of describing people who not only lead, but also create a syndrome of awe and respect among those who follow.

As my head typed thoughts, mental snippets of great men and women who know (or knew) how to relay passion and inspire action flashed through my brain in a state of chaos asking for order — to answer the question of how each of us can better achieve, no matter the endeavor we choose to captain,

QUALITIES OF A GREAT LEADER — Seven Things to Ask Yourself

1.  Do I know how to rise through the ranks?

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Trying to get ahead can be frustrating, but to lead, one must rise to the position of a leader. According to Theo Epstein, who was named the World’s Greatest Leader in 2017, by Fortune Magazine, if you can figure what your boss hates to do and do it for him or her (which usually accounts for about 20 percent of his or her job), you’ll eventually find yourself rising through the ranks. This makes sense, unless you have a boss who finds you too useful to promote. At any rate, the first requirement to become a leader is to get into a leadership position–and if you feel ambitious, use your intuition to work your way up.

2. Can I stir passion?

elon-musk-detroit

Canadian American Business Magnate Elon Musk reveals one secret of his leadership success : “give people ownership over their own projects”. Musk has been credited with convincing employees not to consider impossibilities. His avoidance of micro-managing has helped him get where he is today. Sure others may not do things exactly as he would have done them, but a project completed well is a project completed well.

The ability to inspire passion cannot be faked…and not all passion is meant for the greater good. It requires a sage audience to exercise discernment towards the intent of a leader. But if the intent is worthy, the ability to rally people is invaluable, whether done in the reticent style of Abraham Lincoln or the vibrant style of Winston Churchill.

To stir passion, a leader must hold the attention of others, sentence by sentence–while keeping the “Bore-Radar” set to the ON position.

Warning: a good leader must also avoid falling prey to the habit of getting lost in the joy of hearing the sound of his or her own voice by noting the bodily expressions of his audience (like deep sighs) and nonverbal messages (like squirming around as if looking for the escape hatch).

3. Do I know how to create, create, create (and not become discouraged)? 

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We are always moving forwards or moving backwards.

If we stand still, we may believe we are in a state of stasis, but standing still is synonymous to moving backwards–because most everything around us is propelling forward. Remember when you sat on a train and noticed the train beside you moving forward? You may have an instinct you’re moving backwards, even though you were not in motion at all. Any time a person in position becomes too comfortable or lazy to act, the “moving” world around can cause him to go backwards.

American actor, writer, producer, director, rapper, singer, and songwriter Donald Glover first found success as the lead writer for a NBC show at the incredibly young age of 23.

Since then, Glover’s career has catapulted upwards. FX president John Landgraf describes Glover : “He’s remarkably multifaceted. I look at Donald first and foremost as a creator, but also as an entrepreneur–someone who is almost boundary-less, who can do almost anything [he sets his mind to].”

Creative leaders may not be able to do things the “conventional way” and often prefer to do new things…or to do old things in new ways.

4. Do I always have a project? 

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When I think of having a project, I always think of the incredible Henry Ford and what he said :

 

If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.
Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. ~Henry Ford
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Henry Ford was a man who lived in the future. We may all agree that it’s not healthful to live in the past. But don’t always buy into the hype that we should only be “living in the present”.

Living in the present can be wonderful, but a great leader also lives in the future, keeping a project going at all times and thinking about the days, weeks, months and even years to come.

A leader knows that one of the most effective ways to achieve is to always have a project.

5. Do I make things happen?

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Many of us have the grandest plans in the world, but do you actually make your plan happen?

On almost every list of top leaders in history, you’ll find Joan of Arc. At the age of 19, she had a vision of how to help France fight against England. She could have stopped there and kept dreaming, but instead she went to see the king. Although she could have felt insecure about her age, she convinced Charles VII that she could save France, eventually leading an army to free the city of Orléans from a siege by the English. Although her life was taken later, the French continued to rise in power in part due to Joan’s courage to make her vision happen.

How we make things happen is important. Pushing an agenda forward without regard for others almost always backfires. Some level of communication and respect for the thoughts of others must be heeded, or a position of leadership will be short-lived.

6. Do I Forget the Ones Who Helped Me Succeed?

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

One man or woman cannot succeed without help. One of the greatest attributes of a great leader is the ability to remember the forces that helped along the way, including who made introductions, who did the dirty work, and who took the time to lend a hand or to make a winning suggestion.

The “ego” is a tricky monster and can cause one to believe that he or she did everything all alone with no help. This is a pitfall which a leader who is going to continue to lead, must avoid.

Remember it often turns out that, when you make the effort to remember  those who helped you along the way–showing gratitude through memory leads to a mutual trust that tends to pay gigantic dividends later.

7. Do I look the part?

Each photo in this article features a person who “looks the part”, for a reason.

How many times have we seen the sloppy-looking candidate try to gain a position of authority? Unless you are aiming to enter the Silcon Valley set, how you take care of yourself will influence your chances of gaining the position you want. If anything, hygiene and stylistic flair, no matter your style, will gain leadership points.

 

 

 

 

 

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