“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more
and become more, you are a leader.” — John Quincy Adams, sixth U.S. president
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders,
not more followers.” — Ralph Nader
Here’s something that might surprise you. Leadership development is NOT just for CEOs or aspiring middle managers. Whether you know it or not, someone in this world looks up to you as a leader. That’s why all of us ought to improve our leadership skills for our roles at home as parents, at work, at church, and in our neighborhood and civic organizations.
“While great leaders may be as rare as great runners, great actors, or great painters, everyone has leadership potential, just as everyone has some ability at running, acting, and painting.” — Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus in Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge. p. 222.
“Our earlier belief that leadership comes about primarily through managerial ability has been replaced by an awareness of skills needed for understanding people and dealing with their problems productively.” — Academic Leader, p. 3, Sept. 1994.
The first part of leadership development involves feeding the mind. Zig Ziglar says that from the neck down, we’re each only worth about $10-20 an hour. But from the neck up, we have unlimited earning potential. So, what do most people do? They feed the $10-20 part three times a day and neglect the part that has the most potential. With the limitless supply of courses, books, recordings, workshops and seminars, there is no excuse for this. The solution is simple. Start a new habit. For example, while driving, instead of listening to a Jon Bon Jovi CD, listen to a John C. Maxwell CD. Transform your car into a “mobile university.”
Mentoring is the second crucial component of leadership development. Everyone should have a trusted someone who can help guide him or her along the journey. In fact, I recommend a team approach. I have such a team that I privately refer to as my Board of Directors. These are people whose opinions I seek when I am wrestling with an issue or need a second opinion about something.
Some are people I associate with on a regular basis who care how I’m doing and are available and willing to offer guidance when I need it. They support my journey with advice, patience, understanding and wisdom. They are part of my accountability team, helping me up when I fall and keeping me grounded when I get flighty. They watch my back and my step.
“Nothing makes it easier to resist temptation than a proper bringing-up, a sound set of values – and witnesses.” — Franklin P. Jones
Now, I’m not implying that my Board follows me around 24×7. But, in one sense they are. Just asking myself what they would do is often all I need to get back on track. You should have a Board of Directors, too.
“Where there is no leadership the people fall, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” — Bible, Proverbs 11:14
“A leader lives with people to know their problems. A leader lives with God in order to solve them.” — John C. Maxwell
Leadership preparation without implementation is hollow. So the final piece is an opportunity. The first leadership opportunity is found within. We all have the responsibility to first build leadership within ourselves. It is impossible to lead others effectively unless one can effectively lead himself.
As people see the changes in you, leadership opportunities will seem to appear out of nowhere. In fact, there are an infinite number of opportunities. Why not start a small business? It’s an ideal workshop for leadership development, especially a simple, home-based business. Because these types of businesses come prepackaged and are relatively simple to operate, you can get started quickly and learn as you go. Your business will grow in proportion to your leadership growth. It’s a leadership development workshop and a business all in one.
“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” — Bill Bradley (U.S. Senator)
“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” — Tom Peters
I’ll close with some of my favorite leadership quotes.
“It is not such a fiercesome thing to lead once you see your leadership as part of God’s overall plan for His world.” — Calvin Miller
“Effective leadership is the only competitive advantage that will endure. That’s because leadership has two sides: what a person is (character) and what a person does (competence).” — Stephen R. Covey
“Leadership is not something that you learn once and for all. It is an ever-evolving pattern of skills, talents, and ideas that grow and change as you do.” — Sheila Murray Bethel
“True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders.” — Robert Townsend
“Leadership has less to do with position than it has with disposition.” — John C. Maxwell
© Copyright August 2008, December 2010, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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