The Power of Leadership
We can easily observe that people in leadership roles tend to be more driven and more ambitious than others. They have more life force, their personal output is higher, and they are simply more energetic and on fire to accomplish great things. Their motivation is so infectious as to impact the people around them, and in many cases people half a world away. The true leader is often described as that person who instills life and action in others to the end of greater survival potential and prosperity.
But there remain a few nagging and gnawing questions: WHAT motivates these people? WHY do they have so much more life force than the “average” person? HOW are they so on fire and energetic? What is that intangible thing? What is the X-factor? While I could not begin to answer all those questions in their entirely, as to why some people manage to rise from the proverbial ashes and lead others to greatness, I can offer some insight based on study, experience and direct observation. While certainly not limited to these, I worked to distil it down to the top five ways leaders stay motivated:
A Leader is Motivated by a Sense of Duty
The highest level of motivation is duty. Other ways of saying this are responsibility, accountability, personal pride, sense of purpose. It means someone considers that it is simply their job. This is probably the most notable difference in the leader; they consider that whatever it is they are engaged in is their job. Whether it involves civil rights, running a nation, freeing a sector of society from oppression, bringing a new technology to the marketplace, starting and operating a family business, or just running a neighborhood store, the leader – big or small – is driven by a sense of obligation and duty.
It is not that he or she “owes” anything to anyone – that would be seeking to make amends – they just sense that it’s their job. And it’s not anything overblown or grandiose, but that sense of duty may end up spanning continents and generations. One reason I think that some leaders develop (or are born with) this sense of duty is that they simply CAN do it. They realize what they’re capable of, so they feel an obligation to act on it.
How does one cultivate this sense of duty in oneself? There can be a numbers of ways. Realize that you CAN instead of CAN’T. You may not perceive that something is your job because your opinion of yourself is too low. Perhaps someone in your past told you too many times that you CAN’T and you started agreeing with that person. The truth is that you are vastly more capable than you thought you were. Just realizing that you are able to do it could serve as sufficient motivation to ignite the sense of duty and responsibility. You CAN so you DO.
A Leader Likes What They’re Doing
While the sense of duty can go far beyond what you “enjoy” doing, it is true that many a great leader derives great joy from what they do. It’s rather difficult to keep doing something you dislike or are bored doing. A leader is often the one who is genuinely excited about what they’re doing and this tends to rub off on others. They are first to arrive in the morning and last to leave at night because they really get a kick out of it. They also tend to be more enthusiastic about life in general. They’re just fun to be around.
How do you instill this in yourself when of course there is plenty to be upset and apathetic about? One way is to just get into action. Raise your productivity. Move faster. Get more done. You’ll feel better. Another approach is to do what you love. Even if you don’t get paid for it, do what you love, and whatever you get paid for will go better. Still another approach is to simply decide to be excited. Force a smile on your face and force a laugh from your soul. Just do that and you’ll raise your emotional level. Also, stop watching all the news about Ebola and bombings and beheadings. Do you really need all that bombarding you all day long? If you’re an epidemiologist or a Navy SEAL then fine, maybe you need all that intel, but otherwise ask yourself if all the bad news is really doing you any good. Do all the above and you’ll raise your leadership potential.
A Leader Knows There Are RIGHT Ways to Do Things
A leader doesn’t get apathetic because things don’t go their way. They realize they must have done something wrong and they work to remedy it. They know there are right ways to do things and wrong ways to do things, and they seek knowledge in order to discover them. If they find out that no one actually knows the answer or no solution exists, they seek to develop a solution themselves. In other words, it’s not some mysterious “over there” or “somebody else” that is to blame. They look for practical solutions to things. And they possess a remarkable level of courage, curiosity and resilience.
To instill this in yourself, stop blaming others. Instead of pointing a finger at someone else, ask yourself exactly what went wrong and look for a way to fix it. Seek knowledge and wisdom. It’s also interesting to note that when a leader isn’t exactly a genius, he or she will have a few geniuses on hand to help solve things. We live in a technological age and there is quite a bit of technology out there to solve all kinds of problems. Don’t ignore it.
A Leader Thinks BIG
A leader will have big aspirations. Their goals may be inconceivable to others, but they’ll break those goals down into smaller, doable, tangible steps. And they have the ability to communicate to others both the smaller steps and the massive aspirations. Where others think in terms of the next week or day or hour, the leader is looking much farther ahead, often past the present generation. They just think in larger numbers, more years and broader strokes.
Having trouble getting through the day? Get a concept of where you’ll be in a year. If it looks bleak, decide to change it. Then broaden that scope to your family, your office, your neighborhood, your state, your country, your planet. “I’m just me,” you may say. “What difference could I possibly make?” you ask. Well, that’s the problem – too many people think that way. Start by giving it a thought; then see if you can gradually widen your perception. Keep doing that, day after day, and you may find yourself leading others in a big way.
A Leader Believes in Others
A leader delegates to others and expects them to perform. In fact, it is this sincere expectation that is often the reason they do perform. In other words, the leader has faith in others. Those under the charge of the leader may or may not fully perceive this. Example: Have you ever been handed a task from someone you sincerely admired and respected, and then you did a better and more efficient job than you might have otherwise done? You performed better simply because that person expected a certain result – and you wanted to do it! A leader is able to get others behind a common cause and working in the same direction.
To cultivate this atmosphere, simply demonstrate mutual respect. Respect yourself and respect others. They’ll catch on. When you delegate, do so with certainty. Know exactly what you want and communicate it. At the same time, be able to trust people and hand over responsibility. Let them know you are trusting them. Will this always work? No. You will at times feel betrayed and rightfully so – just try not to let yourself get too jaded. Above all, believe in others and believe in yourself.