Many people entered the profession of “leadership” and few were successful. They did so because they had a mission, a vision, a dream, and a goal. But twelve months down the road it all failed, their energy and time wasted.
Then we ask, “What went wrong?”
We can find many factors and reasons why a leader fails and why the organization failed. But today, I want to concentrate on the leaders themselves, they are the ones who build up the group and keep the group moving. However, what makes a good leader? What must you, the leader, do to be successful?
Here are what I think a Good Leader must do (and what not to do) based on my own observation and my personal experience.
A Leader Must Set An Example
Numero uno in my list is a leader must set an example. If you want your members to follow and listen to you, show it! How? Go the extra mile if you have to. Take care of each of your member. Spend from your own pocket if needed (before you start asking from them).
You need to show to the people you are leading that you are serious with the organization. You need to show them that you are willing to do what you are preaching. If you are marketing to them that the organization is about helping each other, then show it to them. If you are asking them to go to a meet-up or meeting, then be at your meeting place hours before they start arriving.
Reasons like “I have to take care of my business” or “I have a meeting elsewhere” is a very bad sign of a leader or leadership. If you do or did that, do not expect and do not be surprise if your members do not respect you.
You are the first who have to make sacrifices here, not your members. You are the person they are going to look up to for the rest of your term. Set an example. No leaders successfully led an organization without setting an example, always remember that.
Stop talking… Show Us the Results!
You can not keep on talking forever! Where are the results? Your members will not follow you blindly! Another area where results must be shown is all the meetings and strategy discussions. You can have a thousand strategy meetings but no results, is useless and bad for morale.
Other leaders also boast of their past achievements. It is fine if people can see the results, for example, from reliable corporate reports or press releases. But if you can not produce proof of your success, it is better not to tell anyone of your achievements.
Who cares if you achieved this or that? If I can not check your claims independently, then I don’t believe you! So “stop talking non-sense to me!” Your members in your new organization will just laugh at you for boasting something that they can not validate for themselves!
This also applies to training seminars. Provide proofs that your method works, if you can not, then do not do a training seminar instead start doing an open-floor discussion with your members. It is better to spend time discussing with your members on how you can achieve your goals than to train them with something they do not know if it will work!
I would not even listen to you if you do that, and guess what? I would not be surprise at all if people do not pay attention to you or nothing works at all! If the people attending your training seminars can see proof that what you are teaching them really works, I’m sure more than half will produce results themselves.
A Leader Must Be Humble
Be Humble. Not because you are leader, you can do whatever you want and demand from your members anything that you want. Humility can bring you, your members, and your organization to successes that no one of you ever imagined.
You will also learn things that you would not notice (and probably you will dismiss it) if you let your pride cloud your eyes and mind. Pride makes us blind and stupid. Pride is an emotional thing we know as ego. Don’t let it control you, throw it out and be humble.
This is not a solo act
Definitely not a solo act. Many leaders fail here and it brings the organization with them. Your job is to lead, if you do not know how to delegate work to your members, it is time that you learn how. If you do not, you are going to get tired, stressed, and your members will not be very happy with it.
Also, you must remember, your members are people like you. They want to grow, they have feelings, they have brains, and they want to know if they are really part of the organization. This brings us to the next tip…
Members Are Assets not Liabilities
Always remember that. They are assets not liabilities. Tap their abilities and skills! You can not do it alone! You can not learn all the things needed to make your organization successful! Don’t carry it all, share it with your members.
Give your members a chance to enhance and use their skills, and to be truly part of the organization. Being a “member” does not end with signing an employment contract. It is about doing something for the group. If your members do not know that, then tell them, explain it to them. And if you do not know that, then you teach yourself first before you teach others.
Training not Duplication
Train your members. About what? To be who they are! To use their God-given talents to the best of their knowledge and abilities! Don’t put it to waste. Train them, do not duplicate yourself in or to them.
Any organization has needs for different functions. Different functions mean different skillsets. If you duplicated yourself instead of training them to use their skills, then you will have plenty of leaders. Imagine having 10 brains instead of one.
Yes true, it is better to have that many brains than one, but is that what your organization really need? A group of leaders who are leading… who? Themselves? An organization starts to have a need for leaders if it has grown large. You start to create sub-groups –- departments, committees, etc.
But if your organization is not large enough, you do not need 10 of yourself in the organization, what you need are people who know how they can contribute to the organization for the benefit of all members. I am not saying that duplication is wrong, but it is only used when you need leaders.
Also, before you start duplicating people in your organization, be it duplicating leaders or other functions, check first with the person if they are willing, explain it to them, and be sure that you yourself know what you are doing.
Do not move members or your employees from one position to another just because you need people elsewhere! Not because your member is topping your effectiveness and productivity reports does it mean he will be in his new function/position! I have see this a lot of times in many corporations.
It is better to keep them where they are and train them to be better. Not everyone are salesmen, not everyone are web developers, not everyone are leaders. Not because you can do it or you are willing to do it, that they too can or is willing.
Build Bridges not Walls
As a leader, you must build relationships not just to the outside world but within your organization. How will you be able to understand your members’ need and discover their hidden talents if you keep yourself away from your members? Or if you keep on ending conversations, and instead you address your members as a group?
If you want to be successful in your endeavor, start creating relationships with your members individually. Talk to them instead of shutting them off. Have a one-on-one discussion instead of addressing the whole group. Give time to know them yourself first-hand.
Now if you are a leader of a 1000-member organization, that is a big task but it is not impossible. If a member starts to talk to you, usually at first to ask questions, give them your full attention. That is your window to create a relationship with this member. A small, short talk will and can bring a thousand possibilities than none-at-all.
Are you flexible? If not, time to be flexible. This is one good sign of a good leader, his flexibility to different things. Being flexible does not mean you must be for all areas all the time. Rather it is about knowing and deciding when to bend a little and give way to something.
I am not saying that you start disobeying your own rules and regulations or you start violating the laws. I am saying that if a member can only do this much, then be happy with it. Or say, a member’s belief requires her to do something on this day and this time, give her that.
If you really want to be a leader, you need to be sensitive to your members and not just to yourself especially when it comes to doing business or it involves money. Do not assume that your members are like you. Each and everyone of us are unique in ways that you can not imagine and possibly will never comprehend.
This is specially true when demanding something from your members. If your members can not do what you are demanding of them, it is time to know what the problem is. Be sensitive! Do they have a problem or something? Is something preventing them from doing what you want?
How will you know that you are doing good as a leader if you are not sensitive to your members? For all you know, you are their problem already!
Being sensitive is as important as any other I have mentioned earlier. They did not join your organization to be your slaves but to be your colleagues. Keep them happy and the organization will be healthy.
Finally, have fun. A leader that is too serious is not good either. You need to have fun and put that smile on your face –- a real, genuine smile. Why? Fighting the stress. Whether you like it or not, we will all feel the stress of running an organization and being in an organization.
This will also promote good relationship between the members, a light and energetic organization lasts longer than those organizations who have forgotten how to have fun and enjoy what they are doing.
Being a leader is a monumental task but it is not hard at all once you know what you need to do. There are many more other traits a leader must have, but these ten in my opinion, are the most important (and neglected) ones. I myself am a leader (and a founder). I built many organizations, many have been successful, many also failed.
Through that process of failures and success, I learned how to become a leader in its truest meaning, at the same time, I learned the do’s and don’ts. I learned to value my members, to be sensitive, to delegate tasks, and be humble. Instead of sulking in the corner for my failures, I stood up, analyzed and learned from my mistakes.
Instead of letting my ego take control of me and fail to recognize and listen to a disgruntled member (or ex-member)’s last [angry] words, I humbled myself and accepted all the words thrown at me. Again, I analyzed and learned from it. It does not matter if it was your mistake or not, what matters is you got something good from the experience.
I learned these things because I did it wrong the first time, second time, third time. Guess where one of the organization I founded is now –- 400+ member strong, that had its 6th year anniversary last January 30, 2009, and with members who no one can convince to leave. I resigned as their leader two and half years ago and they still keep on growing.
I imparted good traits and values, and I trained them well in running the organization. I am very proud of them — the Holy Order of the Light. I am not claiming that it was “all because of me”, I recognized them as assets, as important members of the organization, that they are vital to the success of each individual and the whole family.
In fact, I give all the praises to them. I see myself as someone who simply guided them, someone who laid down the vision, but the rest was all because of their abilities and talents that were freely used, and nurtured. It is no different to how we first walked when we were babies, our parents were there just to support us but we learned to walk by ourselves.
I hear someone say, “Oh c’mon it is a gaming organization, that’s not comparable to a real-life organization.” Really? I urge you to read the following articles about Game Leaders getting hired by top corporations.
Leadership can be applied (and experienced) anywhere. It could be from schools, or your local neighborhood, a non-profit organization, volunteer group (especially during calamities), and even gaming. I also learned a lot of things from being an employee of different corporations, and I also learned from reading books and from asking leaders. But, the best teacher? Experience.
Check out the rest of the Leadership and Management series.
Top 10 Tips for Good Leadership by Yuki is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Legal Notice.