Leadership is the great challenge of today, in all fields, and leadership will continue to be among our greatest challenges in the future.
I want to begin by recognizing one of the most challenging roles in leadership: parenting. Yes, one of the greatest challenges of leadership is parenting. Unless we take our children by the hand and strengthen the family foundation, the nation is shaky. Parenting is where it all begins.
My father had a simple little rule. He said, “Son, if you get in trouble in school, when you get home it’s double trouble.” Does that method sound familiar? Double trouble at home if you get in trouble at school.
A lot of parents are hoping someone else will exercise the leadership role—teachers or the church or the school or the community. That somebody will take up the task of being the example. But this is a challenge for parents to take up themselves, to become leaders.
The Challenge of Leadership
Leadership is the challenge to be something more than mediocre. It was said of Abraham Lincoln that when his mother died, he was at her bedside, and her last words to him were, “Be somebody, Abe.” If that story’s true, he must have taken it to heart. Be somebody. Be somebody wise. Be somebody strong. Be somebody kind. All of the attributes of leadership are a unique challenge.
Leadership is the challenge to step up to a new level, a new dimension that has opportunity and responsibility. Who wouldn’t want the responsibility along with the opportunity if it builds an extraordinary life? You wouldn’t want it any other way.
There’s a whole new method of leadership called leadership by invitation. Not leadership by threat. Not leadership by aggravation. Not leadership by intimidation, which shows their weakness or ego at work instead of their skills. Leadership by invitation. Invite somebody to a better way of doing things.
It’s also called leadership by inspiration. Inspire somebody to make the necessary changes to move up or to get the job done. As leaders, we inspire. As leaders, we entice. As leaders, we invite. Invite, entice, inspire, but don’t threaten.
7 Qualities of an Effective Leader
If you want to be a leader who attracts quality people, the key is to become a person of quality yourself. Leadership is the ability to attract someone to the gifts, skills and opportunities you offer as an owner, as a manager, as a parent.
What’s important in leadership is refining your skills. All great leaders keep working on themselves until they become effective. Here’s how:
1. Be strong but not rude.
Learning to be strong but not impolite is an extra step you must take to become a powerful, capable leader with a wide range of reach. But it’s a thin line. Make sure you don’t cross it. Some people mistake rudeness for strength. It’s not even a good substitute. Rudeness, we don’t need. Strength, we do need.
2. Be kind but not weak.
We must not mistake weakness for kindness. Kindness isn’t weak. Kindness is a certain type of strength. We must be kind enough to tell someone the truth. We must be kind enough and considerate enough to lay it on the line. We must be kind enough to tell it like it is and not deal in delusion.
3. Be bold but not a bully.
It takes boldness to win the day. We need to boldly seize the moment, boldly seize the opportunity, boldly seize the chance. But we don’t need bullies. We don’t need anybody to push anybody around.
4. Be humble but not timid.
Some people mistake timidity for humility. But humility is a virtue, and timidity is a weakness. You must turn your timidity into strength. Keep working on it until finally it does not dominate your life anymore, and then expand your ability to understand the vastness of this life. Humility is a sense of awe, a sense of wonder, an awareness of the human soul and spirit. Humility is a grasp of the distance between us and the stars, yet having the feeling that we’re a part of the stars.
5. Be thoughtful but not lazy.
We need to give thought, but we also need to take action. You need to dream without just being a dreamer. Head in the clouds, yes, dreaming lofty dreams, but feet on the ground.
6. Be proud but not arrogant.
It takes pride to build your ambitions. It takes pride to build a community. There’s something to be said for pride, yes, but don’t cross the line to arrogance. Pride, we need. Arrogance, we don’t. Do you know the worst kind of arrogance? Arrogance from ignorance. If someone is smart and arrogant, we can tolerate that. But if someone is ignorant and arrogant, that’s hard to take.
7. Have humor without folly.
There’s a difference between being silly and having humor. In leadership, we learn that it’s OK to be witty but not silly; fun but not foolish.