How to become a good leader

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For many years, leadership has been a significant subject of discussions in the business world. There is a lot of talk and opinion about what good leaders are: what they should do, how they should behave and even what they should wear. This subject has been taken apart over and over again.

I’ve even seen job descriptions of leadership roles, describing in detail what the work entails, the responsibilities and rights and not a single word about the people this person should lead. Amazing!

What’s more, I frequently have discussions with so-called ‘leaders’ – and the majority of them are struggling to be a good leader.

Being a Leader is not an assignment, but a decision you take!

A leader’s job shifts from being a worker to supporting his or her team to do the job. This requires trust, commitment and the decision to stand for the team.

It’s very similar to parenting. When a child comes into your life, your attention, actions, and behaviours change to support the child. Like in parenting, there are different views about what makes a good parent, but I believe (or at least hope) everyone has the best interest of their child in mind. They will be there when the child needs a parent and stand in front of the child in case of any danger. Leadership is the same.

Being a Leader is taking a decision to support the team, create a secure environment to develop and be in the front-line in case of danger.

This creates an environment where team members can safely develop, innovate and create to achieve a common goal, without fear.

Not everyone is born to be a good leader, in the same way, that not everyone is born to be a good parent. If you’re put into a leadership position and you struggle, the first step must be:

Make the decision to become a great leader!

The worst cases are the common career paths, where we need to move into a leadership position to move up the ladder. Most often the motivation is not in being a leader, but in money, position or status. All of those have nothing to do with leadership but only relate to that one position. Everything you learned and have been so good at in the past, loses most of its value, and you start from scratch.

Now, you need to learn about people. You need to learn about creating a safe environment, about standing up for your team and defining the direction you and your team needs to take. This is a huge step and most likely, far away from what you’ve done so far in your career.

If you set out on your career path to be great in your field, becoming a leader will change most of it completely. Becoming a leader is passing some of the work you’ve done to your team and trust them to do a better job than you’ve ever done. Being able to let go of your previous job is part of that transition, and that is where, in my experience, most people struggle.

A friend of mine described it like this: becoming a leader is like having to sell your Porsche to buy a family van and be super happy about it.

Decide to be a fantastic leader. Learn the people skills required and create an environment in which your team can safely grow.

Are you ready to be a leader?

John Di Stefano

An entrepreneur at heart and founder of the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium. He is teaching and supporting entrepreneurs in the skills every entrepreneur needs to create a better life for themselves and the people around them.

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