First Step in Becoming an Effective Leader

"To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge" - Benjamin Disraeli

What Is a Leader?

Having the goal to become an effective leader is a great aspiration and should be commended. Before you can picture the end result, you must first understand what it is you are working towards. Having an understanding of what leadership is will help you continue on the pathway toward effective leadership. Leadership...

  • Instills emotion in people
  • Motivates and directs
  • Casts a vision
  • Impacts on the long-term
  • Has the intention and goal of going to the next level
  • Puts things together

Leadership is all about direction, helping a group of people stay the course and continue on in the right way. A manager, in contrast, is someone who measures a group, studies performance, and reports statistics to others. But as a leader, you want to get others to want to do something that you are convinced should be done. 


First Step? Look in the Mirror

Is it really that surprising that the first step in becoming an effective leader is to first look at yourself? In the Bible, Christ told his disciples on the "Sermon on the Mount" to first take the log out of your own eye before you take the speck out of your neighbors eye. This applies to leadership. You must first see the logs in your eyes; the struggles, weaknesses, temptations that you have to overcome first. 

How do you look in the mirror? Ask yourself these questions. When you led, were you...

  1. An effective, self controlled, moral leader?
  2. Able to accomplish what you wanted to with your followers?
  3. Ethical and practiced the golden rule?
  4. Able to lead yourself effectively?

These questions make you look back at what you have already done in the past. Break down your past and your daily routine. Can you see things that you are currently doing that are unhealthy? Take the log out of your eye and see the things you are currently doing, so you can know exactly what you should change. It takes some sincere willingness to look at yourself in this kind of way, because you might find something you did not expect. But a leader constantly evaluates himself, and the first step to becoming a great leader is to know what your current situation is. 

Here is the application, once you have taken a deep and long look into the mirror: Start challenging your excuses! Are the excuses you gave justifiable? Are they lazy? Having a bunch of excuses will keep you from being a disciplined leader. Don't look back at your shortcomings and reward yourself. Only reward yourself when the job is completed. Stay focused on the job and the results, not on the difficulty of the tasks. 

My challenge to you is to look back in the mirror to last week. How much time did you devote to regular disciplined activities? Did you do anything to help you grow professionally? Did you do anything to help you grow physically? Did you do anything to help you grow spiritually? Did you do anything to help you grow financially? If the answer to any of those questions was no, you know what log you need to remove from your eye. Leadership starts with yourself, and you must be willing to tackle any of your problems head on and be determined to overcome them. If you cannot get yourself to be motived to overcome shortfalls, how can you motivate others to do the same? The first step to becoming an effective leader is to look in the mirror.