The word lead basically means to direct by example. Such a person knows the way, shows the way, and goes the way (John Maxwell). Therefore, a leader is an individual who directs others into a particular path or way by showing them exactly how to get on that path. A leader is very different from a boss because a leader understands that those being led may not have a grasp of what is expected, and as such, a leader directs their followers. Here are the Core Values of a Leader.
It is very pertinent to know what makes a leader, especially one to be reckoned with in their field of endeavor. The core values of a true leader are those values that cannot be negotiated no matter what happens in the life of a leader. These are values that have been ingrained in them and have become a part of their lives. Leadership values cannot be overemphasized, especially in these present times when there is a dearth of individuals with good leadership abilities and values.
How Can one Develop Core Leadership Values?
The following are steps that can be adopted by an individual seeking to develop core leadership values:
Seek for a Mentor
The present failure of leadership in today’s world is predicated on the absence of mentors. A mentor is an individual who has excelled in your chosen vocation and should be someone that you can reference when making decisions. A mentor is, therefore, necessary when it comes to acquiring leadership qualities. The greatest leader of all time is Jesus Christ. He is the shining light of leadership in all ramifications.
Therefore, to be an effective leader, you need to know JESUS. There are many other examples of people who became great leaders in the Bible because of powerful mentorship. A classic example of such an individual is Joshua. Moses mentored Joshua, and after the death of Moses, Joshua became an even better leader than his mentor.
A typical example of a mentor and a mentee relationship is Mircelis and her mentor, Coach Laura. She narrated how she needed someone who can truly model leadership for her so that she would be able to serve the people she has been called to.
In the words of Mircelis, she knew she had a genuine love for business right from a tender age, but she didn’t know how to venture into business until she came in contact with Laura. Laura became a role model for her, someone she could look up after being connected through a service opportunity. I firmly believe that we rise by lifting others. This is the hallmark of true leadership.
In recent times, it is a common misnomer to find men and women occupying positions for which they are either underqualified or unqualified. However, the foregoing is not as dire as having individuals who occupy positions that they are grossly incompetent for. Knowledge cannot be over-emphasized. It is said that knowledge is power. Therefore what you know makes you powerful.
Your ability to use your knowledge distinctively makes you unique and a leader to be reckoned with. To be an effective leader, one must be an avid student. A leader must see learning opportunities from any and every situation and never feel too proud to learn. Learning must be accepted as part of a lifelong leadership process, making it necessary to learn, unlearn and relearn. In addition to the knowledge gained, a leader must show the way and follow through.
Leadership is purely by example. Do you desire to lead? Do you aspire to be an outstanding leader with relevance? Then, you need to know and show the way. If You want to be a community leader, youth leader, a leader in your home, school, or workplace, you need to know the way, go the way and show the way. There is power in the applied knowledge of whatever area of leadership you have been called to. Whatever you know has a way of rubbing off on your subordinates. If you know little, they will also know little and apply little.
No knowledge acquired is ever a waste, no, none at all. Having the right knowledge or the technical know-how makes you the resource person. It gives you an edge over others. This is an essential aspect of leadership because what you know reflects in your leadership style. The day you stop seeking knowledge is the day you start decaying, and your tenure loses relevance even though you might still be physically on the throne. Having the right knowledge is what shapes your ideas and approach to life.
The next important step in being a leader is your ability to be a visionary individual. For you to stand out, the next important step you need to take is to make you a leader with a difference in your ability to be a vision builder. Permit me to say that your vision as a leader is your driving force. Your vision is more or less a propeller that keeps you always on the go.
Every great leader must have a vision and dreams that keep you Motivated, Aggressive and Determined (MAD) till you achieve them. Most visionaries possess an aggressive spirit that will never give up until their dreams are accomplished. What is your vision statement and mission statement? Have you broken it down into goals so you can actualize them within the said time? A leader has a vision board, and they do not leave their lives to chance. Genuine leaders work tirelessly on their vision and mission.
Your vision as a leader is your strong “why” if you don’t have a strong why, the tendency for you to give up on yourself and the dream is inevitable, but when your “why” is very strong, you remain steadfast and unmovable. As a leader, your vision can be likened to a mirror, meaning you need to look at it every day. This is why you need to break it down to either daily, weekly, or monthly goals. The way you look at the mirror every day, you are expected to look at your daily and weekly goals to strive to achieve them.
Every great leader must be accountable and trustworthy. What does it mean to be accountable? Being accountable as a leader means being a person who can willingly explain themselves in any given situation and be easily understood after such explanation. People look up to those who can keep their words even in little matters and people who can be lenient enough to explain what happened and how it can be averted subsequently.
For instance, when you are leading a group of people, you tell them they will have a special guest, and at the end of the day, the guest does not show up. It is expected of you as a leader to inform the people you are leading that the special guest could not make it due to unforeseen circumstances. It is wrong to keep your followers in the dark about anything. Even as an interviewer or a panelist, when someone fails to meet your standards or rules, you owe such a person this attribute of accountability. Simply letting them know where they got it all wrong will go a long way to ensure they do better in the future.
Engage in Active Listening
One other fundamental attribute of a genuine leader is your ability to be a great listener. As a great leader, one of the core values expected of you is that you must be willing to listen to others. Men of influence are all around you, do not sideline them because you are the boss. Instead, listen to their ideas and implement them. Even if you think their ideas are not excellent, listen to them and give them room to express themselves. When you constantly exhibit this trait, you make it a lot easier for them to relate with you. It also helps them understand that you really do have their interests at heart.
Pay Attention to Detail
As a matter of urgency and necessity, every great leader must cultivate the habit of paying attention to details. Do not be the kind of leader who feels or thinks it does not matter because everything you do matters a lot. The conversations you wave aside for lack of time can be detrimental in cultivating your leadership skills. Therefore, no matter how irrelevant you think it is, please learn to pay attention to details. Paying attention to details will save you from making lots of costly mistakes.
Develop Problem Solving Skills
The most revolutionary leaders are those who remained standing when the chips are down. There is a colloquial saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Leaders are therefore born for the day of adversity. Leaders shine through when the pressure is at its apex. Do you really want to stand out as a leader? Want to be a unique and phenomenal leader? Then you must be a problem solver. Yes, everyone who desires the best in their field must solve problems.
For instance, if you are a relationship coach, you have to narrow down the aspect of relationship problems that you can comfortably solve, for example, heartbreaks and how to recover speedily from them and avoid the subsequent experiences. Whatever field you find yourself in, you need to know their needs and proffer lasting solutions. By so doing, you become a problem solver and the go-to person whenever the need arises.
However, in problem-solving, one must understand the need to measure and solve problems within one’s area of competence. It is a great crime in leadership for a leader to attempt to solve a problem they are unprepared for. A leader solves problems because they need to be solved and not because they want to show off.
Therefore, leaders must learn to approach problems with humility and the understanding that they may encounter problems that their personal skills and abilities alone may not solve. This brings us to the next quality of a leader, humility.
Many great leaders at many points in their lives face hubris. This is a Greek word that reflects a man’s innate desire to feel that they do not need anyone’s assistance (God, gods, goddesses, or humans). A true leader knows what it means to be a “nobody,” and he appreciates everyone working under him. He gives the ones others assume are not in his “class” the freedom to associate with him because he knows that every man born of a woman has value.
The gateman or the steward you are looking down on today could be your connecting link to greater heights tomorrow. This is the reason you can’t afford to be proud but stay humble! Humility is the fastest way to significance and influence; a humble man or woman has the probability of achieving greater feats than every other person because they place a sense of value on everyone who comes in contact with them.
Every leader needs this skill and should consider it a core value too. Creativity sharpens your ability to observe things others do not notice; it exposes your eyes and mind to grasp happenings in your surroundings. It is different from problem-solving because the latter is a risk mitigant. A problem solver steps in when things go out of the plan while a creative person develops the plan. In many ways, this skill is of greater importance than problem-solving.
Creativity will help you as a leader to think and act differently. It will make you curious and courageous, confident and positive. You will be flexible and inspire others while being focused and balanced also. Research has shown that creativity is one of the most important qualities for success today, alongside integrity and global thinking. This makes a leader with such attributes stand out from the crowd through their minds and their actions.
Every leader is expected to be empathetic. Every leader who desires to be relevant in their chosen field and who also desires to stay relevant must, as a matter of fact, cultivate various forms of empathy. A leader must have cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and compassionate empathy. To be empathetic is to identify with what your subordinates are going through. You can feel their pains when they lose a loved one or lost some amount of money to robbers or any other mishap. Your ability to comfort or encourage them assures them that you can depend on them against all odds.
Any leader who lacks Empathy simply becomes a narcissist who lacks the ability to feel what others feel and, as such, is not fit to be a leader. We have series of examples from the first great leader we mentioned in our introduction to others such as John Maxwell and Coach Laura.
Leadership Focus Areas
It is common to cast your focus on what can be gained from the leadership position as a leader. However, true leaders are not those who benefit from leadership roles but people who contribute through leadership platforms. Below are examples of a few focus areas for leaders.
- Be People Oriented: No matter the idea in a man’s head, if these ideas do not translate to comfort for the men and women who are associated with that leader, then that leader is said to be a failure. A leader must understand that the people are the reason he/she is a leader.
A leader must therefore self-examine at all times and be ready for constructive criticisms. A leader must always strive to ensure that policies, plans, ideas, goals, focus all end up in one thing; making life easier for people. Be a leader who believes and prioritizes growth, self-discovery, self-development and allows his subordinates to be vulnerable towards him or her. This creates a bond among those being led.
- Accept Leadership As A Calling: Leadership is a divine mandate that many people who occupy offices of power fail to understand. No one rises to the position of leadership by lobbying or planning or even hard work alone. Every leader who occupies one office or the other is thereby divine mandate and as such must always seek divine guidance when taking actions or making decisions.
- Build Capacity: Many times, a lot of people misconstrue capacity building merely as developing individuals. While that is a key and indisputable aspect of capacity building, it is not the only aspect of capacity building. Capacity building involves creating an environment that enables an individual to be able to realize their maximum potential. This usually includes putting structures in place which equip people to develop at a fast and accurate pace. Failure to build capacity amongst those led will result in having too much work on the part of the leader in order to realize the overall vision.
- Instantiate Processes: Processes are series of steps taken by individuals and/or groups to attain set goals. Processes are usually aligned with overall policies and always ensure that goal attainment can be done in simple, concise and measurable steps. It is not sufficient for a leader to only show how it is to be done, the leader must be able to set up steps on how it must be done.
These processes help for continuity whereas, the absence of processes is part of the reason why many leaders in Africa fail. The absence of process means everyone attempts to find the best way of doing a thing and most times before that way is discovered, a great amount of time is lost, and the individual is compelled to move to other things.
Leadership is a call to service, a call to serve and save humanity, and not a call to serve self. It takes a lot of discipline, selflessness, and commitment to serve others effectively, and that’s why every leader must have the aforementioned characteristics. It is therefore imperative that one prepares for leadership. Stumbling into leadership unprepared is unhelpful to the leader and those led. In fact, it is one of the surest precursors of human disaster.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Must every leader be trained?
Like I have been saying, it depends on your Industry. For instance, if you are the head of an armed robbery gang, you probably won’t need any training for such heinous acts but if you must serve humanity positively, in whatever aspect, you have to be trained and certified.
- Can a leader be sued?
Of course, a leader has the right to sue and be sued.
- Must every leader be the initiator of the ideas that will move their industry forward?
No, the leader mustn’t be the idea-generating room.
- Is it profitable to be a leader?
Of course, it is very profitable. It is one of the most profitable ventures one can get into. This is because the lives you get to impact can never be measured. The rewards live on even after the leader must have exited the earth.
- Is having a mentor a must-have for anyone who aspires leadership role?
Yes, you must have a good mentor who has evidence of good leadership qualities and styles.