The book goes on to define and discuss key characteristics that are needed in order to develop leadership. The mastering of one of these characteristics is one that I often struggle with myself; the art of prioritizing. Often, our responsibilities are so vast that if we fail to prioritize, they can become like quick sand and we will quickly sink in our list of “things to do.” Being able to determine importance and urgency, accomplish these tasks first, and either delegating the lesser tasks to others or taking care of them later is key to being an effective leader. It is important to know what task are vital to the common goal, and what are simply things that need to be done in the process. Many times, leaders have the mindset of “if I want it done right, I have to do it myself.” This will ultimately become counterproductive to good of the organization. We must learn to entrust others to accomplish tasks in our stead, while remaining available to offer assistance as needed.
Integrity…in my humble opinion, this is THE most important characteristic of a leader! Integrity defined is “I am who I am no matter where I am, or who I am with.” This goes hand in hand with your “Be level.” Who you are and what you do are the same in private as what they are in public. Only you know this person! No one can define the “real you” for you. However, when you are a person of integrity; it shows in how you deal with others, how you get things done, and how well others can count on you. People must know that they can rely on you. The higher a leader goes, the less “rights” he has, and the more “responsibilities” he undertakes. Integrity will determine how well you will deal with the matter of “fairness.” A person of integrity doesn’t have to work to gain followers. People naturally want to be around and follow leaders that do what they say they will do. Leaders with integrity can be relied upon to put others first, and to have the best interest of the people and the organization at heart. I could have all the money, things, and positions in the world; but without integrity being a defining characteristic in my life, all that is vain!
Another key ingredient to becoming an effective leader is willingness to change. In order for your people to grow, and the organization to grow, a leader must be susceptible to change. An unwillingness to change will result in people who are unwilling to change and an organization unwilling to change. Howard Hendricks wrote, “ Effective teaching comes through a changed person. The more you change, the more you become an instrument of change in the lives of others. If you want to become a change agent, you also must change. If you want to continue leading, you must continue changing.” Change, however, does not come easily. Most people, including leaders are not willing to change because it means venturing out into the unknown. You will face resistance when implementing change. People are naturally creatures of habit, therefore any disruption to their routine will result in resistance. Before creating change in an organization, the people must see a change in you! Your willingness to explore new options, learn new procedures, and take on a new “adventure,” will result in a leader worth following. This also requires the cultivation of relationships.
Going back to integrity, the more your followers trust that you have their best interest and the interest of the organization in mind, the more willing they are to the sort of change you propose. It will also take time. We cannot expect people to be on board as quickly as you are. Having the wisdom to take people at their pace will be vital to ensuring a smooth transaction of change. People fear the unknown, therefore we must help paint the picture of the end result, lay out a course of action during the transition, and help them take ownership of the vision. Change does not have to be tumultuous. Establishing the right relationship, setting an example of change, allowing your vision to be shared by the people as a whole, and having the wisdom to allow for proper timing will result in successful change for the better.
Vision for the World