The quote “Leaders are born, not made” is a disastrous statement. Leaders are developed over time with life experience and training in their field of choice. When we make mistakes, and we all do, we learn from them and pass that knowledge on to others. This is the growing stage, and leaders all learn and grow from experience. Perhaps the best way to grow as a leader is to be part of a team. Teamwork is essential for any profession. Whether we go to college or enter the workforce directly out of high school, everyone should be taught the value of working together. Henry Ford once said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” Admittedly, there are those who choose to be alone in their ventures. Yes, there are times when we must work alone. However, we absolutely need a team, and every team needs a leader.
Team dynamics do not happen by themselves. A team needs the proper leadership, and that leader will need to model the way others should follow. What you say and what you do is a genuine expression of who you are. The most complimentary thing someone can do is imitate someone who leads the way. But since everyone is different, it is more important to discover who you are. As you develop the leader within you, you can inspire others to do the same. Leaders develop traits that others can benefit from.
If you believe you are a leader, then setting the example for others should be a priority. James Kouzes and Barry Posner have written several best-selling books on leadership. Their goal is to pull the inner self out and develop leaders. Once method of drawing out the inner leader is their challenge to be a good listener. In The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations (2017), Kouzes and Posner tell us, “The best leaders are great listeners. They listen carefully to what other people have to say and how they feel.”
Are you that one person who can listen to a co-worker or partner and allow them to express how they feel? Through listening, a leader can assess how someone feels. In this day and age, listening can prove to be very vital. At any moment, someone could come to you with a problem that you have previously navigated through. This may be your opportunity to lead. Would you be willing to listen? Proverbs 18:13 says, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Folly means it is foolishness to not listen. A real leader lends an ear to his or her friend, listens carefully and builds trust.
As we continue to endure the struggles of COVID and all that comes with it, we all need to become good listeners. When a co-worker or partner comes to you with a problem, lend an ear. The best leaders will help people overcome the struggles of life. Roy T. Bennett asserts, “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” A leader listens; others just hear. Today, listen to someone.