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.


2 Step Process to Better Manage Your Time

Did you know that on average, an owner of a startup or small business will work between 60-80 hours a week? Even with that amount of time, business owners are consistently saying they need more time during the week. And because time is such an issue, owners will tend to do the more "fun" things first, often times forgetting the more "boring" important things. As a leader in your business, you must manage your time better and allow yourself opportunity to do the important strategic objectives. So how do you free up time and manage your day better as a business owner?

1. Identify Your Time Wasters

Have you ever made a list of all the things that you waste time on during your day? Social media might be on your list, as well as TV or video games. Do you struggle with any of these time wasters?

  • Television
  • Being tired (too little or too much sleep)
  • Waiting on people
  • Talking on the phone
  • Lack of motivation
  • Interruptions at work
  • Lose or misplace things
  • Unclear goals
  • Not keeping lists
  • Disorganization

The biggest time waster I see is procrastination. How often do you put off doing something just because you cannot bring yourself to sit down and do the task? And then that process snowballs and repeats itself over and over and over and over again. If you have identified procrastination as a time waster for you, try breaking tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces. My favorite trick is to get the more difficult or boring tasks done the first thing when you walk into the office in the morning. Procrastination can kill so much of your time, but identifying it is the first step in the process to tackle this monster time waster.

2. Identify Your Time Savers

The best way to identify time savers are to think about the processes you have streamlined to get things done. This can be an email system, phone system, goal organization system, etc. Identify the things that you currently do that have you save time. But do NOT be content with the status quo; implement new time savers into your work environment and business. The best time savers are those processes that are solutions to your time wasters. Choose one time waster and think of one time saver solution. Once you have solved that problem, tackle the next time waster. This helps to not overwhelm you and it sets reasonable goals. Here are a few time saver tips:

  • Complete difficult tasks during your most productive time
  • Set priorities
  • Keep lists, check and cross out items as you complete them
  • Use a calendar and keep it in eye sight
  • Reward yourself when you accomplish difficult tasks
  • Learn to say no
  • Ask for help from co-workers, family, or friends
  • Be on time and be professional

Time is your most precious commodity as a business owner. With it, you can make strategic decisions that will directly impact the health and future of your company. Do not take this lightly; think long and hard about ways to free up time. Do not just free up time and replace it with another time waster. Remove the time wasters and replace them with time savers, and you will have saved yourself financial, moral, and physical headaches.  

4 Secrets to Leadership Success

What is leadership? Many business owners are going to be asking themselves that question as they look at setting goals for their organization for 2016. Setting goals is one thing, but convincing your employees to adopt and complete those goals is another. One of the best ways to help your organization achieve goals for 2016 is to utilize your influence as a business owner.

Leadership has been defined many different ways by many different people. The best definition I have ever heard was this, “Leadership is the art of getting others to want to do something you are convinced should be done.” How does this definition help business owners become more effective in their leadership in regards to goal setting? Let’s break it down:

1)     “Art” – Leadership is not a science. It is an art. And by that we mean that there is not one perfect formula that we can replicate to create the perfect leader. Many factors might cause one particular successful leader to fail in a different environment: business industry, history of management, personality traits of employees, etc.

2)     “Getting others” – A successful leader in 2016 will not do everything themselves. Even if they had the time to, a business owner should be a master at delegation. To do this effectively, an owner must prioritize the tasks, communicate them properly, and staff the right personnel.

3)     “Want to do something” – There are a few types of leaders. One group is the authoritarian leader, who forces projects and tasks upon their following. Another group is the transformational leader, who inspires followers to action. This is the kind of leader a business owner should strive to be. Only by convincing your employees to want to accomplish a goal will the business achieve organizational success.

4)     “You are convinced” – A shared, inspired vision is only as good as the source it came from. If you, as a business owner, don’t believe your goals for 2016 are great goals, your employees will have no reason to want to accomplish those goals. The goals and vision for 2016 should be shared, coming from the top-down and valued by the business owner.

Setting goals for your organization is simple. Setting great goals is harder. Accomplishing those great goals is something else. An organization needs a leader to guide them organizational success, by empowering them to want to complete the goals that are important to the business.