No one is born a leader. There may have been people in history that were born to be a leader but it takes practice and experience to become a leader that others will trust and follow.
Erika Andersen notes in her book Leading So People Will Follow that six leadership characteristics stand out based on the research she has done; far-sightedness, passion, courage, wisdom, generosity and trustworthiness. She also states in an interview that courage has been the most difficult for her to develop. I personally think that courageous leadership takes practice and is not something we can learn to do or be over night.
My friend and colleague Shira Miller shared with me that Elaine, a leader she worked for in her last corporate job was the one that stood out as the best leader she ever worked for. Shira says that Elaine would take time to listen intently and make everyone feel connected and special regardless of their title or role in the company. Elaine also had the courage to make hard decisions, even having to close a division but she did so in the most compassionate manner possible. Closing a division takes courage, providing direct communication to the organization about why a division is closing takes courage and being an open listener takes courage.
Susan Tardanico wrote in her Forbe’s blog post earlier this year that “Courageous leaders are in high demand and short supply these days.” In her post, 10 Traits of Courageous Leaders, number three is “Say what needs to be said” number six is “Communicate openly and freely” number eight is “Make a decision and move forward” and number ten “Hold people (and yourself) accountable. In my opinion if you follow these four steps you will be practicing courageous leadership and build trust with your employees.
We can build leadership on fear, obligation or trust. Your employees will support you and the courageous decisions you have to make as a leader if you have first built and reinforce trust in the relationship.
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