What Does it Take to be a Great Leader? (Part 1)
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
I have often heard the question, “Are leaders born or developed?” The answer to that question is yes. Every leader is born, because every person is born, and yes, every leader is developed. Sure, there are those who are born with a bias for action and perhaps a love for people which in turn manifests itself in a natural ability and desire to take charge. However, true leaders are developed through intentional growth in specific areas and a realization that this process is never finished.
The first thing we need to learn is who we are. Not on a surface level, but truly who we are deep inside. What are our strengths? What are our weaknesses? A behavioral assessment such as DISC or Myers-Briggs is always very helpful. Another great tool is what I call a “Closest Friend” Assessment. Very simple, but at times challenging to handle. You ask two of your closest friends to tell you what your greatest strength is and what your greatest weakness is. Brace yourself. The strengths are fun to hear, but the weakness can be telling. Now for the surprising part. Unless your weakness is a character issue, put it aside for now. The goal is to work to develop your strengths. If you spend too much time trying to get better at something that isn’t part of your giftedness, at best you will be average, and as one of my mentors likes to say, ”People don’t pay for average.”
Let’s get back to the character piece. I believe character is the foundation of real leadership, and with that, we need to realize that a lack of character will be our limiting factor. Just this morning I heard John Maxwell say, “Leadership doesn’t begin with the actions on the outside, it begins with the actions on the inside.” You see, character is much more than talk. Character determines who you are. Our character determines how we view things and in turn, how we act. Carly Fiorina says, “Character is who you are when no one is looking.” You can’t lead without character because no one will follow someone they don’t trust. The good news is that while talent is a gift, character is a personal choice. Will you decide right now to be a person of character?
Join Marisa and me on The Next Page podcast as we kick off our series on what it takes to be a great leader!