“Good leaders create an appetite for more in those who follow them.”
–R. L. Mitchell, Sr.
The question has been asked for generations: are good leaders born or made? Although I have known people who were born with charisma, born with opinions, born with a can-do attitude, and born with other leadership skills, I am example of a leader who was made. Anyone who truly wants to become a good leader, can. It requires self-awareness, a willingness to learn, a willingness to change, and the ability to ask for help.
When I was a teenager, in fact until my mid-twenties, when I tried to be a leader, I was more of a dictator. I didn’t know how to influence or encourage people to be better – at least not as a conscious leader. Don’t get me wrong — I was an overall kind person. I was complimentary and encouraging. Even that attitude took conscious choice. I lacked confidence in myself and lacked the ability to let people arrive at their own destinations in their own ways. Even if we had the same end goal in mind, if someone were doing something differently from the way I thought it should be done, I often became meddlesome. It took years of conscious effort to enjoy other people’s creative paths to a shared goal.
When I began pursuing jobs as a teenager and career choices as a young adult, I became aware of true leadership. I realized that not all good people are good leaders. I also realized that not all “good leaders” can be trusted. I also realize that I was a good person and a trustworthy person. I also knew I wanted to learn and become better.
I observed my managers and their senior leadership. I began reading the books that senior leadership assigned to my managers to read to become better leaders. Recognizing that so many books and seminars and approaches exist on leadership helped me realize that leadership can be learned and it can be taught. It can be encouraged and engendered in every person, regardless of job title or company position. A shadow leader has real power. A leader in “name only” has little. I began to hunger and thirst after good leadership techniques. More than techniques, however, I wanted to become a truly good leader. My appetite grew. Likely, it will never be completely satiated. I hope I always will continue to improve.
Consider your favorite leaders in your life. Were they always in position of professional power or authority? Were they ever peers? How did you feel when you were around them? Did you even recognize them as leaders as you followed them willingly? How did they influence? How did they encourage?
Now, turn the mirror on yourself. How has your leadership style changed over the years? Why has it changed? What do you like about your leadership style? What do others say about your leadership and influence? How does your leadership style affect the culture of your organization? Does your leadership style encourage the company culture you want to have? Do the people who follow you have “an appetite for more” after spending time with you? How can you create that appetite? How can you create that appetite throughout your organization?
All of these questions cause organizational decision-makers and change agents to pursue greatness and excellence. Having the answers and knowing the actions that best serve you will increase your organization’s productivity and profits. If you need help finding these answers or if you need help determining what steps to take after you learn the answers, call me to discuss how we can work together.
My name is Catherine Wiberg of Profitable Alignment. I help medium-sized businesses align their organizations with their original purpose, their employees, culture, customers, and future vision to reach their next level excellence. Profitability and productivity arise naturally from proper organizational alignment. Creating leaders in all areas adds to organizational alignment. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at (509) 730-5506.