Leadership is more than talk
The word “leadership” has become increasingly popular within the last 30 years. People are realizing the need for effective leadership in all spheres. Leadership is defined in different ways, but one thing remains constant, and that is impacting the lives of others. A leader can be anyone who uplifts, inspires and pushes another into his or her purpose.
There are several myths about what makes a leader. The biggest myth is that just because someone is in a leadership position they are a leader. Leadership isn’t based on position, but really the value a person brings to the position.
In John C. Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” he explores 21 laws for people who want to increase their awareness and understanding of how to be an effective leader. One of the beauties of these laws is that they can be learned. Another is they can also stand alone, so for the purpose of this article we will single out seven of the 21 laws which will challenge and inspire you toward intentional action.
1. The law of influence
“He who thinketh he is leading and no one is following, is only taking a walk,” said Maxwell. If there is no one following you, who are you truly leading? There are some key factors that help others to buy into a leader. They include good character, connections, knowledge, ability and experience. If one does not exude at least two of these characteristics there is a huge chance that few people will buy into your leadership. People buy into the individual before any dream or vision. If you don’t have influence, you won’t be able to lead others.
2. The law of process
In life, everything is a process, whether trying to lose weight, seeking further education or starting a business. Most times, we become impatient when hurdles and delays arise. We are in a time where we expect everything to be quick and instant, however that is not always the case. Challenges come to test what we are made of. Any goal or dream is a daily process we have to consistently work toward building or improving.
3. The law of navigation
Would you jump on a boat with an unexperienced captain? It’s important for leaders to predetermine a course of action, head into action, expect problems and consistently review plans for adjustments. Maxwell said, “You must know the way, show the way and go the way.” A leader cannot take their people where they have never been before. Vision, strategy and execution are key to taking groups and teams to their destination.
4. The law of connection
People want to feel special and counted. A leader fails if he does not know his people. People are searching for authenticity. We must consistently live our message, meet people where they are at, as well as offer hope and direction. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” If you want the best work out of your people, value them and treat them right and more likely those people will want to help you.
5. The law of sacrifice
A common misconception about leadership is it’s all about the power and the perks. Truth is, the higher one goes in leadership, the more they will have to sacrifice. When we look at the life at Martin Luther King Jr., he met with presidents, led thousands in peaceful marches and is remembered as one of the greatest civil rights activist. While on the other hand, his house was bombed, he was arrested many times, stabbed and physically attacked. Life is a series of trades – one thing for another. Sacrifice can be a painful experience for a leader, but the rewards reach far and wide.
6. The law of timing
“The wrong action at the wrong time leads to disaster… the right action at the right time brings ultimate success,” said Maxwell. There are a number of factors that help us know when and how to move. These include knowledge and understanding of the situation, confidence in knowing what must be done and intuition, which is something spiritual, or in our gut, that points us in the right direction. The beauty of life is that even when we make the wrong move or have bad timing there is always a lesson, if we are willing to learn for the future.
7. The law of legacy
Most people before they die want to know they left an impact. Mark Twain once said, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” The question is, are you embracing a life that will be remembered? Our legacy is closely connected to our purpose. Each of us has a reason why God placed us on this earth. Ensure each day you are living and embracing it.
Remember: Leadership is more than talk; it is intentional action to make your life and the lives around you better.
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• Katherine Beneby II is the coordinator at the Queen’s College Centre for Further Education, as well as a certified John C. Maxwell speaker, trainer and coach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.