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 Lake@Work Newsletter
Four Principles of Leadership
Posted: December 16, 2011
Leadership has NOTHING to do with title or position. You could be the President of a country or the General Manager of a Fortune 500 company and NOT be a leader.

In truth, leadership has EVERYTHING to do with behavior. If you BEHAVE in certain ways, you can and will be a good leader.
To see if you have leadership qualities, start with this behavior checklist.

1. A leader does the right thing.

John Wooden, arguably the greatest basketball coach of all time was more than a sports coach. He was a leader on and off the court, because Wooden always told his players and his audiences: "Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are."

In other words, a good leader focuses all of his energy on doing the right thing ... instead of spending all of his time on the superficialities of "looking good" and "sounding good." A good leader is guided by a strong moral compass instead of a slick spin artist.

As author Michael Josephson writes, "People of character do the right thing, not because they think it will change the world but because they refuse to be changed by the world."
You must have the courage of your convictions. It's not enough to KNOW what is right; you've got to DO what is right.

2. A leader is more concerned with "we" than "me."

Unfortunately, too many "so-called" leaders are on an ego trip, seeking all the glory and hogging all the limelight. From their perspective, it's all about me, me, me.

Jill Blashack-Strahan, President and CEO of Tastefully Simple. Says of her company, "We don't do it alone." And I dare say the same thing can be said about every good leader. He or she doesn't do it alone, and they don't pretend to have done it alone. They are more focused on "we" than "me."

3. A leader demonstrates an unshakeable positive attitude.

In other words, they exude energy. They display enthusiasm. They project cheerfulness. And it is nothing short of contagious.

You may have come across some leaders like that. No matter what is going on, you may have noticed that leader's department is filled with people who are pumped up, excited, and connected. You may have even wished you were a part of that department ... because it's only natural to be drawn to such high levels of energy.

Of course, not every leader is born with a positive attitude. Some of them had to work at it. Somehow or other, they took on Norman Vincent Peale's advice, who said, "Be determined to like your work. Then it will become a pleasure, not drudgery. Change yourself, and your work will seem different."

If you yearn to be a leader, or if you desire to become a better leader, you've got to have faith ... in your country, your company, your department, your team, your church, your family, your future ... or whatever else you are trying to lead. No one follows a negative leader for very long.

A leader must demonstrate an unshakeable positive attitude when things are going well and not so well. In fact, when things aren't going so well...

4. A leader accepts responsibility.

That's right. He accepts responsibility for the good and the bad.

Unfortunately, it is much more common to see ego-driven leaders take all the credit when one of their decisions works out well. But when one of their decisions proves to be wrong, they cannot be found, have nothing to say, or blame someone else for their failures.

To be a leader who accepts responsibility, you have got to have a certain degree of maturity and humility. You have to be able to say, "I was wrong. I'm sorry. But we're going to do better next time." And when you are proven right, you avoid saying, "I told you so."

Iain Clark at AEGON in Edinburgh, Scotland has a great motto. His motto was simply, "Leaders accept responsibility for the decisions they make and take full responsibility for any resulting failures."

No matter what your title or position is in life or at work, you're a leader of some kind. Apply these four principles to yourself and your work and you'll automatically become a better leader.

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