Several years back I had the chance to attend the CM Leaders conference in Ohio. I recently came across some of my notes from the few days there. Reading through, I found some pieces that fit well together: pieces from multiple speakers. One of the bigger pictures that I found could be called ‘Characteristics of an Effective Leader’.
#1 An effective leader pays attention to patterns.
This works on two different levels. First, you need to be aware of the fact people are looking at you, and often imitating you. I have a lot of experience working with kids, and this is so true. The behavior pattern you model is the behavior pattern you will encourage. If you are a high-strung, disorganized, paranoid person, the kids around you will tend to pick up on that and imitate your behavior.
On the other hand, if you model organization, thoughtfulness, kindness and any number of positive qualities, you will automatically enforce those qualities in the kids around you. This is not only important when you are leading kids, but it holds true when leading adults as well. If you complain, are disorganized, unhappy, that will trickle down through those under you, and it will be increasingly more difficult to keep them motivated. If you remain positive, encouraging, uplifting, guess what? That will permeate your team as well and it will become easier to lead your team.
#2 An effective leader knows the balance between imitation and innovation
There is no reason you have to reinvent the wheel. There are so many great ideas out there, so many people doing what you do, and often doing it better than you. There is no reason you can’t learn from those people, read those resources, or search for new ideas. The problem comes when we settle for imitation. We try to do exactly what the guy down the street is doing. We forget, however, that the circumstances surrounding their success is different from your circumstances.
You can apply the exact same idea in two different situations and get two different results, because much of the success rests on the situation, not the idea. The better solution would be to combine the imitation with a little innovation.
There is nothing wrong with borrowing ideas. I share ideas all the time, and I borrow ideas from others. The key to success is to add your own innovation to that idea. You need to adapt the idea to fit your situation. You know your kids you deal with. You know your leadership team. You have a good idea of what will work and what won’t work. So take a good idea and add your own spin to it. Imitate others, but do not sacrifice your own innovation. Your own twist will be the secret to your success.
These 2 characteristics were taken from speakers Michael Chanley and Brian Dollar. I did choose to relay you the information I heard through my own filter, so some of my thoughts are mixed in with theirs. Check out their blog or twitter accounts if you are interested in learning more from either of them. They are great guys!
If you could add another characteristic of a good leader, what would you add?
Read more on leadership