There are lots of leadership seminars and workshops and conferences out there. They all aim to help individuals step up their business game and go from just another person with a good idea to a full-fledged entrepreneur who’s ready to take on the world. It sounds great on the events’ flashy websites and colorful brochures, but still, there are many people who believe that leaders — true leaders — are born rather than made.
We’ve all come across these people in our lives: the true leaders who understand how to build rapport with anyone and everyone, who have a vision, who can cut a path through any rough terrain and inspire others to follow. Or, perhaps you possess these characteristics yourself; maybe you know how to make people feel good when they’re working with you, and maybe you understand that while there are many roads to success, they all require hard work, determination, and initiative along the way.
Whether you’re a true leader or you work with one, you know that true leaders seem to possess a different and special set of knowledge that allows them to be successful in any and all ventures. What’s more, understanding how a true leader thinks can not only help you in your career, but it may also bring out leadership qualities that you didn’t even know you had. Here are four things every true leader wants you to know.
They want to trust you, and They want you to trust them.
True leaders know that strong relationships ultimately determine success much more than any other factor. And, for relationships to be good, there has to be a high level of trust. True leaders are willing to extend their trust to the people they work with, and in return, they expect their team members to trust their leadership skills and good judgment. True leaders want the people they work with to do great work, meet deadlines, and have passion for the mission at hand. Similarly, true leaders will exhibit these same characteristics: they’ll keep commitments and promises, and they’ll always get the job done well. They’ll be 100% accountable, and they’ll expect the people around them to be accountable as well.
They’re not here to do it tomorrow.
True leaders take a real Jeffersonian, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” approach. There’s simply no time for procrastination, for slacking off, or for tabling things until a later date. A true leader1 knows that there’s never any time quite like the present for working toward success. It’s true that some leaders make take this characteristic to an extreme — Elon Musk, for example, is known for being an obsessive workaholic, often at the expense of just about every other aspect of his life — so some perspective on work-life balance is always important. Still, true leaders know that if it can be done, it’s best to do it now.
They are going to challenge you.
If a true leader asks you to tackle a particularly challenging task, please understand that it’s not punishment! Rather, a true leader understands that his or her team members won’t grow in their skills and knowledge without being pushed a little. They know that if their employees do the same types of tasks over and over, they’ll become stuck in a rut, and that boredom will never lead to progression. With that in mind, a true leader will assess your abilities and continually ask you to grow them, essentially testing the tensile strength of your skill set. Will you rise to the occasion, or will you break under pressure? True leaders know that more often than not, you’ll be able to accept the challenges they throw your way.
They’re nothing without their team members.
“If no one is following you, are you really a leader?” is a question posed by many, including Dr. Maurice Roussety, a consulting strategist and leadership expert. True leaders understand that the answer is no; they know that their main job is to motivate and inspire others. Without a good team of passionate individuals working with them, they really can’t achieve the level of success they’re after. Finally, true leaders are always more interested in making their team members look good than taking all the credit themselves. They know that success is rarely an individual effort, and if they’re genuine about their leadership, they’re always grateful to anyone and everyone who’s pitched in.