What makes a good leader? Are leaders born or made?
I get asked these questions often.
My reply is, “Everyone has the potential to be a leader.”
There are many opportunities to lead. It’s all about taking responsibility.
These opportunities are not only found at work, but also at home. As a spouse, we lead our significant other. As parents, we lead our children. If you’re a stay-at-home mother, your children look to you for guidance. You would also be responsible for leading your domestic helper.
The question really to ponder is, “Are you taking on the responsibility to lead?”
To be a good leader, there are two things you need to know and understand.
1. Know your end destination
The first rule of leadership is to know where you’re heading, and ensure that is the right path. The right path would be the path of goodness, morality, kindness and compassion. A good leader would not lead people to danger.
2. Walk the talk
Secondly, good leaders practise what they preach. For example, we would advise our children not to pick up smoking because we know it’s harmful. For them to take us seriously, we shouldn’t be smokers ourselves.
True leaders don’t contradict themselves. People choose to follow a leader if they trust and believe in that person’s mission.
A modern example of a common leader is Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. He has always espoused the importance of hard work and passion in achieving success. Gates is one of the richest men in the world but has donated a significant amount of his wealth to charitable causes. Who can forget his pledge to donate all of his fortune to charity? His passion in contributing positively to the world led him to start the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the world’s largest private foundation.
“If you want to become a leader that people admire and respect, you must become a person of significance. People don’t follow you because you take from them; they follow you because you give to them,” he says.
His passion in giving back to society compels people to respect his leadership.
Let’s ask ourselves if we are that kind of leader. Would we want to follow our own leadership? If the honest answer is no, let’s change that. If we do not have faith in ourselves as leaders, others would find it hard to have faith in us.
Leadership is about doing what needs to be done. Responsibility comes when you truly care about something. That sense of ownership and responsibility is the mark of a true leader.