“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
Lateef Warnick and his team of Alphamists are transformational experts! Part of this is due to their military experience as veterans. The other part is simply their upbringing, entrepreneurial ventures and experiences as business owners. But what makes one a good leader? The qualities of leadership are sought by virtually every leader, and any true leader is constantly striving to improve. Much has been written about leadership, but its specific qualities presented in a structured model are elusive for most.
Despite the abundance of leadership texts containing theories about leadership qualities, the topic remains a highly individual. Successfully applying these characteristics in a focused concerted way always results in good leadership, while a half-hearted occasional effort almost as regularly turns out to be a waste of time – or worse!
Some literature maintains that there are formal leaders and informal leaders. By definition formal leaders occupy formal positions of authority, such as supervisors, managers and other posts within the commercial world. For some of these people, their title is their sole claim to leadership. Informal leaders, on the other hand, display leadership qualities whatever their position, thus creating a model for people at all levels, both inside and outside an organization.
How the informal leader comes to a position of influence varies, but it can often be through a lack of leadership in a formal position. The informal leader may be a confident person with some charisma, offering logical answers for the group along with good ideas for resolving problems.
We often see this in groups that begin by discussing particular problems. If no one is specifically in charge, a leader emerges. Ironically, it’s often the person who shows the most passion for the topic, not the one with the clearest insight about it. The leader is often the one who is passionate about achievement for the whole group, not just for themselves as individuals.
Yet they do show some specific qualities that we can see proves their leadership, and these are qualities we can develop on our own to improve leadership. Though we may not be able to define all of the qualities of leadership precisely, we can recognize them when we see them.
Here are Seven Steps to Transformational Leadership:
Each of us has the ability to lead. We only become effective leaders when we gain the courage to risk making a mistake, when we hold the vision aloft, and we influence others to share the responsibility of achieving the goal. If reaching the goal is our measure of achievement, then influencing the group to achieve it is a natural by-product of the courage to act on the vision.
When the right people are on the team and they have the resources to get the job done, then they’re inspired to get out of bed in the morning, excited about going to work. Motivation is bubbling inside them. A leader keeps them inspired, making sure they know their role on the team, the value of that role, and what’s expected of them. One who knows how their function fits into the overall scheme has no trouble staying motivated, and they are deeply interested in changes that occur within the group.
3. Ignite Passion
Leaders who are passionate about their vision are zealous to make sure that everyone in the organization shares their passion. They will involve everyone on the team to such an extent that it is not simply a vision, but a tangible part of the environment. Everything that follows is a reflection of that vision, and the vision serves as a beacon guiding the actions of everyone involved. These leaders know their people well – what drives them, their personalities, their histories – and is deeply involved in attracting and retaining the right people to get the job done.
Keeping focused on the primary goal for the group will drive a leader to take the initiative, never getting distracted from the true course. So often a leader comes up against obstacles because the vision requires methods that haven’t even existed before. It’s times like these when using initiative and instigating activities drive the team forward.
Whether or not you’ve surrounded yourself with only those who agree with you, it’s imperative to involve others in your scheme as a leader. Waiting for the right people to show up for a task at the right time is often a fruitless game. No team, no circumstance is ever exactly right, and opportunity loves speed. Success loves momentum. A good leader is careful to involve the people who are available, leading them to perform at levels they didn’t know they could reach. Recognize the benefits of having a variety personalities and skill levels in your group. Delegate them, and praise their involvement. Not only do people come with a levels of skill, but a diversity of perspectives is essential to your company’s success.
When leaders develop their following, they are free to pursue the visionary tasks. This means keeping the goal in sight, correcting the course as necessary, changing conditions as required for success, and imparting the vision each step of the way. The art of refinement is a skill all leaders seem to have that isn’t taught in school. Communicating those refinements to the vision is a leader’s most subtle yet essential task. Assumption leads to failure. Imparting the vision is the clearest path to success as a leader.
Having engaged the right people for the group tasks, a leader knows to get out of their way. If you micromanage them, that means you don’t need them. Depend on your people in all your processes. Ensure things are running as smoothly as you hope, and be certain that you can make appropriate changes in a timely way. Listen to the people you’ve engaged, and depend on them to bring in the project on task and on budget.