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What makes YOU a leader? – Confucius says change your habits

What makes YOU a leader? – Confucius says change your habits
April 21, 2016 mg_kintail

It’s time to care for the people you lead.

Confucius, the Chinese philosopher and teacher said, “Men’s natures are alike, it is their habits that separate them”.

The habits you develop can have a positive or a negative impact on the people you lead. If you want to be a better leader, change negative habits and develop positive habits.

Confucius went on to say, “If I am walking with two [others], each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.”

Leadership is not about title, time served, experience, skill, or even personality. It is about relationships, trust, decision-making and resilience. Most importantly, it’s  about how you make others feel when they are being led by you.

I have experience of working with leaders all around the world in sport, business, the military and everyday life. What I have learned from observing leaders in these different, sometimes extreme environments is what shapes and defines them as a leader is their ability to care for the people they lead, even when tough decisions have to be made. This can be difficult to measure, but it is vitally important.

Bill Clinton, when asked what he had learned about leadership from his work around HIV/AIDS in Africa, said, “It’s taught me that leadership more a state of mind than a place in the hierarchy.”

What makes YOU a leader is YOU. It’s about your ability to engage with other people on a human level, your ability to care for others as a human being first and foremost and to treat them with respect even when you are dealing with complexity and adversity.

Sometimes the changes you can make are subtle but highly effective. It could be as simple as smiling when you meet someone or asking a question and waiting for an answer instead of always telling people what to do.

Ultimately it comes down to your ability to understand the real you and to understand how the real you makes others feel in all situations. It is about being emotionally intelligent.

I genuinely believe that however senior your position, how busy your schedule or how much pressure you are under, you have it in you to care and therefore all have the ability to lead. It just needs to be unlocked. Don’t be scared of doing it. Caring is not a sign of weakness, caring is a true mark of strength.

Maybe all you have to do is change some habits. If it worked for Confucius it will probably work for you.

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