When it comes right down to it, being a great leader starts from deep inside you. You can't lead others if you don't first learn how to lead yourself. And once you learn how to lead yourself, you need to inspire the people who work for you to do the same.
According to John Addison--leadership editor of Success magazine, and former co-CEO of Primerica--"If you want to lead people in that deeper way, in a way that achieves results without an oppressive game of who's boss, then you have to inspire them--inspire them to commit to a cause, to better themselves, to live their truest lives."
In his book, Real Leadership, Addison prescribes a list of 9 simple practices that will help you lead and live with purpose--and be a better leader. These 9 practices include:
1. Decide who you are
You can't be everything to everyone. The best thing you can do is decide exactly how you are deep down inside, and then be that person--at work and in life.
2. Shine your light on others
As the old saying goes, there's no "I" in "team." Instead of hogging the limelight for themselves, the best leaders know that shining the spotlight on their employees builds motivation, engagement, and happiness.
3. Build on your strengths
We all have strengths and weaknesses. Instead of focusing on our weaknesses, however, we'll get a lot more mileage in our careers and lives by maximizing our strengths. As leaders, we can hire people who are strong where we're weak.
4. Earn your position
No one is going to hand you your next promotion, or your next job, on a silver platter. You've got to work hard to earn it.
5. Focus on what you can control
There are many things at work and in life that we have some influence over, and many, many others that we just have no control over. Instead of wasting time and energy worrying about what you can't control, put your focus on what you can control.
6. Develop a peaceful core
In the words of Norman Vincent Peale, "A peaceful mind generates power." While the world around you might be complex, chaotic, and ever-changing, you have the power to create an oasis of peace and calm within you. Use that power.
7. Be a lighthouse
Says John Addison, "Most 'leaders' are weathervanes. Whichever way the wind blows, that's the way they turn. That just doesn't work. If you want to accomplish something great, something real and effective, you've got to be that lighthouse. You've got to be embedded in the rock."
8. Don't burn bridges
Never, never, ever burn bridges. Instead, be kind, be honest, and build relationships instead of tearing them down.
9. Make your parents proud
Would your parents be proud of the decision you just made? Of the example you set as a leader, or a spouse, or parent? If not, change what you're doing. Right now.