You are a chief – start acting like it

John C. Maxwell, author and leadership expert, defines leadership as influence. In this episode, I will show you that leaders aren’t always born and go through how you can improve your skills in the area of your life where you are viewed as a leader.  

Three Takeaways on Leadership:

  • You don’t have to be perfect, leadership is a process.
  • Leadership requires education and there are various methods to gaining it.
  • Lead yourself first, before you try to lead others.

You are a leader, there are people looking to you for leadership. And, there are plenty of opportunities to allow people to pour into you to make you a better leader. 

The first lesson to learn about leadership is that you don’t have to be perfect at leadership. Becoming a great leader is a continual process — you never arrive at the destination. No matter how long you are a leader, whether it’s years at a business or just for a temporary project, you need to take it seriously and invest in the journey.

Leadership requires education. Podcasts, books, seminars are all available and will help hone your skills. Learn from past experiences and improve incrementally. I learned many lessons during my time in the Air Force and I look back to see how I don’t want to do things as I did in my past.

Lastly, lead yourself first. My friend Tom Hammell tells the story of standing on stage and teaching up and coming leaders on how to lead when he saw himself on screen and didn’t recognize who he was. He saw how bad his health had fallen and felt like an imposter in that he didn’t deserve to lead others if he couldn’t lead himself. He took ownership of his health and improved his confidence and ability to lead. 

Once you get control of your life in one area, you find it easier to lead other areas of your life. When we go through life and be intentional in things, we can lead ourselves well. For example, I was the host of a podcast and after two years of getting no traction, my team and I decided to quit. I circled the wagons into what I knew and got inside my own head. But a couple of years ago, after getting control of my health I was awakened to help others. 

I reached out to Tom and sought help on how to lead others in a right way. He told me, “You have to be good at being No. 2 before you position yourself as a leader.” He helped me realize that if I could help him avoid the pitfalls I had experienced, it would do wonders for my own leadership. Since that time, I have helped him produce his podcast by diving back into my experience and leading him from behind the scene. Being a servant leader who watches someone else do something and succeed prepares you for when it’s your turn to take the lead.

All that is to say leadership principles don’t change, but methods and applications do. I am a different person today then who I was when I first started leading others. The good news is that we can all be leaders all the way through our lives’ journeys.