This post first aired on One of the Top Leadership Blogs, Switch & Shift, also, one of my clients and fared very well. I hope you will enjoy it as much as their community did.
I recently started working here at Switch & Shift, and I find myself surrounded by a League of Extraordinary Thinkers and speakers on change leadership, rebellious thought, and Career Wealth. I challenge myself to “Awaken the Leader in Me”, inspired by the leadership book by Mitesh Khatri.
I know many other people must be in the same boat as me if the topic warranted a book to be written. Working closely with the posts on Switch & Shift, I can’t help but be influenced by the words and thoughts of our great social leaders.
It has forced me to ask myself: ”What does it take to be an outstanding leader? And what characteristics in particular do I think I possess, and what do I need to work on?”
I recently ran across two posts about Grit; one here on Switch & Shift –The Modern Abuse of Grit – and another on INC. – The 7 Habits of People with Remarkable Mental Toughness – by Jeff Haden.
I am intrigued by the concept of grit. It is a seldom used word, but a quality many leaders, past and present, have in spades. In my mind, grit equates to fortitude, resilience, and gumption (ah, another G!) and the ability to take risks and recover from them if need be; the ability to get back on your feet no matter what you’re fighting.
Grit is not the only quality of a remarkable leader. Grace, in some ways the opposite of how we picture grit, is also a quality of remarkable leaders. Grace seems feminine and delicate in the face of grit. Grit conjures up images of Clint Eastwood in his Mexican poncho, chewing on a cigarillo in the classic film, The Good, Bad and the Ugly.
In stark contrast to grit, grace makes one think of an angel. Grace is not only fluid movements in body, but in mind. Knowing what to say, and when, is an essential trait of a leader. Grace is sure-footedness in mind and spirit, confidence without cockiness. An ability to see the whole picture without prejudice. It is fair-mindedness, coupled with an open mind and an open heart. Can you think of a better quality for today’s leaders?
Growth is a most necessary component of phenomenal leadership. No one was born being a leader. I agree that some children, even as babies, seem to exhibit initial leadership qualities. And there are individuals who inherently possess an uncanny ability to get people to listen, admire and follow them. Not every great leader was born this way however. The best leaders experience tremendous growth throughout their lives, personally and in their careers. In turn, these leaders know through their own growth, how important it is to give their employees or followers the opportunity to evolve and strive to reach their potential as well.
Gratitude rounds out my 4 G’s of Exceptional Leadership. If you have grit, you earned it through working hard to achieve your goals despite life’s obstacles. Along the way, you differentiate yourself from others by developing grace; an ability to know what to do and say with kindness and clarity. These characteristics are acquired through personal and professional growth. And if you have traveled this road you most likely have much gratitude for where you are and the path that brought you here.
Great leaders show this gratitude in many ways; through mentoring and giving back. Thought leaders share their wisdom and act as mentors to those who find knowledge and comfort in their words and actions. Highly successful innovators are aware that they got some lucky breaks along the way and, in fact, they alone are not responsible for their prosperity. Further, they acknowledge that being on top today does not define you, nor does it mean you will stay there. Be thankful for the moment and all the small steps that got you there along the way.
In assessing my own leadership path, I give myself high marks in two of the four Gs, with an average on a third and low on the fourth. Which Gs you ask? Well, I’m not telling; we are all a work in progress and my goal is to improve every day. Some days the change seems incremental, while on others noticeable strides are made.
We all get where we are going in our own way and in our own time. I hope to see you on the road!