DR. CUMMINGS: Five secrets to leadership

February 9, 2014 

Did you ever wonder how great leaders develop? I don’t mean selfish leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini. I mean outstanding leaders like Bill Gates and Ronald Reagan and Kirby Godsey, leaders who have made unselfish and lasting contributions to our communities.

Leaders aren’t born, you know. They develop themselves. It’s a deliberate, slow and sometimes laborious process. It take years of concentrated effort, oftentimes failing, but they keep at it. In fact, they don’t stop because they never feel they’ve “arrived.”

Would you like to be a leader? In your business? Maybe in your church? How about in our community? We desperately need leaders today. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can start at any age. Just begin by asking yourself these five questions:

1. How do I learn what leadership skills I need?

There are many different leadership skills. Some are essential for a politician, with others for a teacher and still others for a manager. Google it, and get a list. Rate yourself on scale of 1-10 how you think you handle each one of those skills. Then ask a friend of yours to bring the same list to the people who deal with you, and ask them to rate you as well -- but anonymously. Have your friend average those scores and compare them to yours. Now you’ll know where to start working. P.S: get a friend or consultant to help you. Otherwise, you won’t get valid data.

2. How do I learn what my group wants and needs?

If you bought a car or a book from Amazon lately, you received a survey. Leaders are just like companies. They need to know. If you’re the leader in your business or in your church or wherever, you need to know:

a. What do my employees want and need?

b. What do my customers want and need?

Great leaders don’t guess about this. They do surveys every year because both employees and customers change their minds and their desires. If you don’t have any employees yet, you certainly have people who follow your lead. Ask them. And by all means, ask the people you’re serving. We call them customers.

3. How do I regulate my personality?

I’m sure you’ve noticed how an extrovert can upset an introvert unintentionally with loud talk and fast decisions, and how an introvert can drive her extrovert boss crazy with her cautious behavior. Men and women who rise to be great leaders spend a lot of time learning the many facets of their own personalities and how to control the effect they have on others.

You can start with the book called “The Platinum Rule” by Tony Alessandra.

4. How do I stay ahead of the game?

A great leader’s training never stops. Seminars, workshops, retreats, webinars, books and videos. I don’t know any great leader who says, “Well, that’s enough. I don’t need to learn anymore.” Instead, they’re constantly thirsting for more. I have found these leaders make much better students than my grad students of years gone by. If you really want to be a leader, hunker down to a lifetime of learning, and make it fun.

5. How do I find a coach?

Every leader needs a coach, a trusted confidant who tells you stuff nobody else will. If you’re the leader of the group you have a certain power. It’s not too noticeable to you, but your group feels it. Subconsciously, they don’t want to bring you bad news. But a leader needs the bad news and cannot really lead without it. Coaches fill this need, and I might add, so do wives.

If you want to be a leader, learn these five secrets. The great leaders know them by heart.

View Dr. C.’s leadership videos on www.digitallydrc.com.

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