By Jas Singh
Most of aspire to leadership at some stage in our lives.
Might be wanting to be great leaders for our families. Or become leaders in the workplace. Some have a passion for politics. Others sports. Others want to become leaders in the community.
We also want to be inspired by great leaders. People we can look up to, admire and model. Who drive us to action.
Great leaders are some of the most important people in any organization. They can be the glue that holds everything together, the visionaries, the captains of the ship. Yet the greatest leaders of all don’t let this position of power and responsibility make them feel self-important.
No, when the tough times come calling, rather than testing the waters through others, great leaders lead from the front.
They set the example and protect their followers.
They lead the way.
They jump first.
Here are some reasons why great leaders jump first.
It shows strength
No-one likes to follow a weak leader. And by weak I don’t mean physically, mentally or emotionally weak. You don’t have to be able to bench-press 100 Kg, or have a steely exterior to be an effective leader.
But strength in leadership means the ability to make tough decisions for the good of others. It means having the strength to put the needs of others before your own. It means being brave to help and protect others.
Being the first to take tough actions when others are nervous to do so shows strength. It generates respect from others. Often it even inspires others to follow suit. As social creatures we have a tendency to reciprocate anyway – the most ingredient is often needing the first person to take the first step.
The greatest leaders throughout time – in religion, business or politics – are often those who had the courage to jump first. To take a stand when others were afraid to do so.
Great leaders step forward to help others.
It shows they care
Last year the Virgin Galactic crash was a great tragedy. Co-pilot Michael Alsbury was killed and pilot Peter Siebold was seriously injured. The crash generated huge amounts of publicity and Virgin owner Sir Richard Branson was heavily criticised.
SRB was visibly demoralised with the whole tragedy. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of meeting him will know that if there is one thing that he loves more than anything else is the people who work for him. For him Virgin is a family and he treats every member their like one of his own. The first thing he did was to go and visit the pilots’ family. He held press-conference after press-conference with the media just so that no-one else had to take the criticism. And throughout the whole process he was visibly shaken – and has mentioned recently that he had even thought about canning the whole Virgin Galactic mission as a result of the pain of losing one of his loved employees.
But perhaps most indicative of all, is what he said he would do next. He stated that the next two people to go up into space in the next test flight would be him and his son. He also promised recently that he would not make Virgin Galactic available to the public until himself and his family have all gone up to check safety.
That shows he cares.
Being the first to step-up – especially when there is more risk or danger involved – is the ultimate show of caring for others.
The ultimate show of leadership.
It serves their followers
Leadership is serving.
The more anyone serves others, and the less they expect in return, the greater the leader they will be.
It’s easy to serve others when there is little at stake. When it’s something we can do on auto-pilot and is in our comfort zone. Or something that involves little risk or pain on our behalf.
But those who are the greatest givers or all give when their followers need them most. Which often means during times of uncertainty or high pressure. Sometimes even in times of emergency and danger.
This often means needing to bite the bullet and take the plunge. Being the first to jump across the cliff to show others its safe. Leading the way and showing others that it can be done. Protecting, supporting and eventually inspiring others.
It’s often said that leaders are not born, but made. But what’s often overlooked is how they are made. It’s rarely because of something they’ve picked up in a coaching manual. No, it’s usually at specific moments in their lives when all of a sudden they’ve made instant decisions to act. That have usually been tough decisions. To take the first action when others are hesitating.
The most rewarding decisions are often the hardest ones.
It’s easier to succeed by copying someone. When we know what needs to be done.
When we know the coast is clear.
But great leaders “lead” the way.
They are the first to jump. They’re prepared to protect others.
Hiring managers can gain much from hiring those people who volunteer first when the times are tough. It can create a working culture and team spirit like a real family.
Is your workplace like a family?
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