Beliefnet
Your Morning Cup of Inspiration

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No matter what you do for a living, there are parts of your life in which you are a leader.  If you are a parent, you are a leader to your children.  At your job, if you supervise others, you are leading.  In your community, you may lead volunteer efforts.  Once you become an adult, it is hard to avoid leadership responsibilities.

So, knowing how to be a good leader is a skill everyone should have. It is important to remember that leadership is a learned skill.  Lots of people like to say, “So and so is a natural born leader.”  That is nonsense.  What they mean to say is that that person is popular or charismatic.  Those two qualities are not necessary to be an effective leader.  The skills for real leadership are gained over time and with practice.

I’ve had many bosses over the years and have had the opportunity to observe both good and bad leadership. And I myself have been in positions of leadership.  As a result, I’ve had a lot of time to consider what makes a good leader.

My first real professional leadership position was a disaster. I thought that being extremely nice and hard-working would be sufficient.  Certainly, those two qualities are part of what make a good leader.  But they aren’t enough.

What I failed to appreciate at the time was that leaders are decision makers. Leaders make decisions in the best interests of the group, whether or not those decisions are popular.  When I first had to lead, I was uncomfortable with decision-making.  I constantly was seeking direction instead of providing it.

As a parent, you have to be comfortable with making decisions.  You have to consider what is in the best interests of your child or family, and your decisions may not always be popular.  Saying “no” to a child who wants to go to an unsupervised party will not be popular.  But leadership requires you to sometimes make unpopular decisions.

What I’ve also learned is that leadership requires confidence. Now that isn’t the same thing as arrogance.  Arrogance is baseless confidence.  True confidence is grounded in knowledge and experience.  It is something that can only be gained through hard work.  As I’ve gotten older and have gained work and life experience, confidence now comes naturally to me.  As a result, being a leader has become easier because I am confident in my judgment and abilities.

I’ve also learned that leadership isn’t optional. If you are put in a leadership position, you have to rise to the occasion and do it to the best of your ability.  You can’t shirk your duty.  Lots of parents forget this.  They flake out on their kids and stop leading them.  They have a midlife crisis and become self-involved.   They get divorced and blow off their responsibilities.  They avoid parenting during the teenage years when kids become more difficult.  And then they stop providing their children with the moral and ethical leadership that is required to parent children.  Leadership ultimately is a burden and a responsibility.  It isn’t simply the privilege to boss other people around.

This week, think about the areas in your life in which you are a leader. Are you being effective?  Are there skills that you need to work on so that you can properly serve those who are looking to you for guidance?  Remember that good leaders truly are a blessing in this world.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

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