As a leader you learn a lot of things from your own mistakes and those of others. By being a leader, you learn how to adapt quickly to different situations and to stand up tall and take charge despite your other weaknesses. Someone believed that you are the best person to handle the responsibility in the best way possible.
I have had a journey of being a leader from a tender age that sometimes I wonder whether I am a “born leader”. Leadership has manifested itself in very many ways throughout my life. When I was in Primary school at the age of 11 years old my journey started onwards, I was the class prefect. After finishing primary school at High school, I was chosen to be a games captain in charge of all games schedule at school, what a role, you would think that I scored at every game.
The next level usually the college or university level, I was elected as a class representative and a club president. Tough roles but I face them off with bravery. When I came to UAE, not knowing where to start from. I became a waitress then cashier, today I am a supervisor at the place. This has become one of the most challenging leadership roles since I work with people from different parts of the world with different cultures, attitude, race and many more. I have learned the following:-
- Always willing to learn
Every-day is a learning day, you interact with people from different backgrounds, with different experiences and they all have something to teach you that you’ve never know in your life, the best thing is listen and ask questions.
- It is lonely at the top at times
You learn to step and make very difficult decisions that sometimes it compromises your relationship with others. You learn to be strong and stay alone and to be able to stand out and be brave enough to be making choices and take chances that adversely affect the life of other people and yours too.
- Flexibility and Open mindedness
Being in leadership you understand the actual meaning of flexibility with your time, energy and being able to change your mind, choices and actions. When contacted at a particular time when your decision is needed, you have to respond no matter what. If required at a particular place and time that is an emergency, you have to show up or delegate someone of similar capacity to take over.
- Listens a lot
You learn to listen and read between the lines of everything that those people in your team are saying without talking and those that they are talking about, you learn to empathize on their pain and sorrow, you give them a shoulder to lean on and cry on while advising on the best possible solutions to their problems. Remember even silence speaks loudly as the words.
As a leader this is the most crucial part but very difficult in the sense that, when delegating the person on a task, you have to choose someone who is capable and have the capacity to accomplish the roles in similar way as yourself. When delegating you learn to be fair by not choosing the same person every time, otherwise they will feel like you are discriminating against them.
- Emotional Intelligence
As a leader you learn to understand and manage your own emotions and of those around you. You learn how to be aware of yourself and your emotions, regulate the emotions, have empathy and have good social skills. Ability to learn people’s behavior and emotions can enable you to know how to approach them.
- Takes responsibility and Stepping up
As a leader you learn to take each and every responsibility of your own actions and the actions of those under your wing. Their failure becomes yours and their wins as well. You take charge of all issues that may arise, staying on top of all the problems, ability to accept your mistakes and ability to be answerable from the subordinate or management staff.
- Points out strengths
You have the responsibility to encourage positive actions and point out every ones’ strengths, this enables your subordinates to reinforce the positive actions and realize that every action is appreciated and rewarded.
- Ready to criticize
This is one of the hardest traits when it comes to leadership this is because we don’t know how the person you are correcting or criticizing will take the issue. You have to think twice on how structure the criticism, the tone of your voice and many more. As a leader you learn to point faults despite encouraging positive actions.
- Ability to change how things were done before
The phrase “we have been doing this ever since” should be out of your dictionary, you need to come with innovative and better ways of doing different things as much as it will make the workplace a better place to be and every one proud to be part of the team.
- Problem solver
Ability to provide viable solutions and long lasting ones puts you in a better position. You should also learn to know most of the areas where problems might arise and take the best pro active actions and provide solutions. This puts you in a better position to offer quick and reliable solutions at any time that are important.
Ability to have information on a wide range of topics makes you stand out because you learn how to easily converse on whatever topics that comes up and how to relate with people easily. Trending topics knowledge, information about the organization and all the upcoming activities are very important. You learn to be on toes with all important information.
- People skills
These refer to the way you interact with other people at work. It includes a set of skills such as ability to persuade others, communication and listening skills, ability to empathize and trust others, sense of humor and even problem solving skills are very important.
- Give a part of yourself
As a leader you realize that your role is very crucial and it involves serving others and not a self serving role. You are called a leader because you are able to solve problems, conflicts and anything that comes up.
You learn to be polite and able to use the magic words such as thank you, sorry, excuse me, pardon and please. You learn that these words are crucial especially when delegating, requesting or even instructing.
Leadership is a journey of self discovery. Everyday is a new day to learn new things, provide solutions and be creative.