Inspiration Opinion

Leaders are Made, Not Born | Qualities of a Good Leader

Leadership has been a reoccurring theme the past two weeks. I’ve been asked my thoughts on this subject by psychologist Sam Page, author of Neuromarketing; released an article in BRAVE Magazine on fairness and rule enforcement; interviewed SMA Kenneth O. Preston on this week’s UIYB, co-author of Breaching the Summit; and been invited to speak during the 2020 National FFA week in Georgia. Oh, yeah, and I’ve been listening to Bob Iger’s (CEO of Disney) recent leadership book on tape called The Ride of a Lifetime.

In responding to Sam’s questions, I quoted Vince Lombardi, “Leaders are made, not born.” Like all things practiced, leadership is learned. Leaders often develop out of ambition, and that ambition often comes from lack. “Lack” can be a great motivator; lack of money, lack of confidence, lack of time – all are mothers of creation. Other leaders come from a desire to be in control of their own life and destiny. I have learned, only recently, I have both: a desire for a bigger life and to make my own rules.

What Leadership is Not

Leadership qualities are not a secret. They are usually: hardworking, action oriented, optimistic, brave, good communicators, empathetic, open minded and honest. Did you notice the omission of “smart?”

For years I suffered from a lack of confidence because of my poor academic performance in school. I believed smart was equated to good grades and for the first 18 years of my life, I was told good grades equated to success. I now know “smart” comes in all forms; people skills, academic skills, performance skills, adventure skills, physical skills, math skills, nurturing skills … the list is endless.

Important Leadership Qualities

Honesty is a good example of a leadership quality that can be learned at an early age by words and examples from our parents and mentors. As an adult, expand your thinking of honesty. Yes, it involves doing the “right thing,” but it is also about being honest with yourself.  Are you being true to who you are or are you pretending? This is not to say you shouldn’t try new things; just do it with authenticity.

In addition, leaders are optimistic. Without optimism there is no strength to push for progress. As I said in an earlier blog, the very definition of a leader is someone always improving their surroundings, facility, sales, people, processes, and procedures.   

Optimism comes easier for some. I don’t know any leader that doesn’t read and boost themselves with self-help books. I like to watch the successful people interviewed on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and I like to have a pen and paper ready to write down all the self-help books her guest read … and write.

Out of the 8 leadership qualities listed above, I only mentioned these two because they are something you can start today in your home, work, or head.

Remember Lombardi’s words: “Leaders are made, not born.” We can all be the leader of our lives.

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