Rosana Nedelciu

Dezvoltare personală și profesională, cu cap și cu drag 'Smart with Heart' personal&professional development

Distinguish Yourself As A Leader, Not A Boss

People are so eager to find out how-to recipes and success pills, very concentrated if possible. People are so eager to reach the top quickly, to see that they have thousands of followers who admire their leadership qualities – while secretly envying them -, to be invited as speakers where they can talk about their success, to show their worth to as many as possible and even impact the entire worldthat they forget success is not a destination, but the voyage itself.

The voyage of finding how-to yourself, based on your uniqueness. The voyage of your inner dialogues, the voyage of projecting a positive outcome while accepting and working with limitations. The voyage of life, unfold as a long long book that doesn’t promise to give the recipe of success, but offers the great gift of using your own mind and your own path to create it. The voyage of both finding and creating the wonders that come with being a human being.

I am lucky enough to have met and worked with real leaders. More than ”tickets” to a higher position, or success, as they are aware they can be regarded as, these otherwise very normal people have offered me the opportunity to witness the human being in one of its wonderfully impacting manifestations. The Observer as I am, among the many qualities they posses, I noticed a few leadership traits that seem to make up a core around which all the others gravitate.

Leaders build their professional success around their personality and not the other way around. And they have strong personalities, and quite the opposite of the “Yes man” type. They believe in themselves and in the recipes they make on their own. They don’t follow some rules that leaders are supposed to follow (to be considered as such), and plenty of times they use their gut against the common sense. Plenty of times they say NO to one direction or another and thus seem “negative” when, in fact, it’s called knowing where they’re headed.

They listen. This is probably one of the reasons they are so loved and admired: they listen actively and, so, make those around feel that their presence is acknowledged and their message significant. Leaders bring out the best in people by making them feel heard and recognized, appreciated. And we all know what happens when we feel that way: we open up and share. Which is a great input for a leader. Not because the leadership manual says so, but because they value experience and because they know what a goldmine that sharing could hold.

They surround themselves with different kinds of intelligence. Diverse and multiple expressions of intelligence that come with diverse and multiple angles of seeing an issue. Why? Because success must be unearthed and it takes all kinds of probing minds to work together on doing it.

When relating with their team members, or interviewing, they do the opposite of what, unfortunately, we’re used to from most of our superiors:

Instead of sizing us up to find reassuring signs of limitation and submission, thus posing no threat to them,

Instead of listening to us talk about our experience only so that they can find and emphasize the part where we’re not quite tailored to the Job Description, thus making room either for a rejection or for a “long long learning time, away from a promotion” while on the job,

Instead of looking for reasons that strengthen a rather opposite position,

Leaders look for what brings us close, for what we have in common, for what we can build together. Leaders are not looking to differentiate themselves from us, but to include us and make us part of the “we” in “We are creating a success story”. That’s not to say that they don’t see the part where we’re not quite the JD in person, and many hire professionals that are not the most experienced or prepared for a certain role, having observed exactly that. But they don’t stop there, they don’t let the NOs make the final call. Somewhere in time, life has set them on a “find the opportunity” mode and that’s what they are doing. None of them has gotten where they are by choosing situations or persons who were already polished diamonds. They know better than that. So they look for potential, even in successful professionals with an impressive track record, leaders still need to see potential.

When they mean positive, that’s what it is. Leaders are not to be found among those who, in the name of YES, manipulate you to become a NO. “Your position doesn’t give you authority to have a say on this” or “Who are you to question my methods?” are transformed into “Thank you for sharing that with me” and “What do we do about it to make it right?”

And, the mother of all leadership traits: they feel responsible for every single person in their company. True leaders make every and any call for profit and success while being painfully aware of their responsibility towards the people who believe in them. A CEO running a business that became profitable just because he’d outsourced and downsized to half is not a leader. (S)He’s an accountant.

What have I learned from them? That leadership takes practice in real life, with real people who, many times, will not agree with you or support you, however wonderful your vision may be. And a leadership training doesn’t do this for you, nor saying “I am a leader” 100 times a day, with visualization and all.

So, the way I see it, positive thinking is not about forcing yourself to a wonderful successful future. It’s not about imitating, about repeating somebody else’s success. Positive thinking is about creating the life that you want by acknowledging your limitations and working with them. It’s about the stubbornness of going after what you want and saying NO if that’s how you feel. Because, sometimes, negativity is actually a way our psyche chooses to revolt and it can be an excellent trigger for genuine development. It’s about being real as to who you are and allowing your growth in your own unique way, free of ready-to-apply recipes. But you have to trust that you can do it.

Inner growth – with its quality as an essential ingredient in leadership– is a process of trial and error that no one can go through on your behalf. If there is a person in this world who knows you and can help you find the right recipe, it can only be yourself.

So, by all means read, get information and give yourself room to ponder on any leadership recipes you find, but don’t be quick into accepting any of them as “a sure way”, or worse, your way. You’d be wasting yourself. Because the more you follow someone else’s path (no matter how successful), the farther you are drifting from fulfilling your own leadership potential.

Instead, re-focus on yourself. Give yourself space and time to be your own success guru. Use your own experience. Learn and make up your own recipes and, gradually, become your own follower.

Become the Number 1 Fan of the Leader you have grown inside.

 

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