Writer’s Name: Lorraine Elzia
Title: Leadership Gumbo – A Recipe for Success
There are those that rule the world and those that exist in it. Society, as a whole, is composed of leaders and followers. The leaders are the ones who have a passion to make a distinct impact on their community, their craft, and ultimately the world in general. Every good organization, from the family unit to large corporations, functions best with an effective leader at the helm.
But what makes a great leader? How do we cultivate, marinate and mold those with the potential and desire to be young entrepreneurs into the leaders that we need? Some say that leaders are naturally born; that from conception, they have the skills necessary to lead others and produce results. The truth is that leadership is a combination of skills; whether innate or learned. The essence of good leadership lies in substance. At the base of its core are vision, spirit and action. Individual style may vary, but the key to effective leadership is substance. The traits of a good leader come from a gumbo of qualities and abilities.
Have a Vision
Good entrepreneurs have a dream. They have a vision that involves the need for change and they possess the ability to formulate a mental picture to create that change. But it's not enough to have a vision; leaders must also share it and act upon it to completion and beyond. To be a successful leader, one must use creativity in thinking outside of the box that constrains solutions. He or she must have a zest for change, the foresight to see things that others have not seen, and the ability to lead followers in new directions.
There is an old saying, “You should not have your mouth in gear while your mind is in neutral.” A leader must have extensive knowledge of not only his or her craft or field, but also the path to take towards reaching the goals. An effective leader is organized, prepared, and knows what it takes to be at the top of their field and the steps necessary to follow in order to catapult their career. Education is the key to sustain momentum and propel a leader and an organization to the top. Good leaders are continually educating themselves in their particular field. They have a hunger for new and innovative ways to stay on top of the industry and life itself.
Great leaders also possess social intelligence, inner charisma and the ability to articulate their vision clearly in words to others. They recognize that having a vision is not enough; it’s merely the beginning. Bringing that vision to life takes marketing; and successful marketing takes people skills. It’s often said that no matter what business you’re in, you’re in the people business. Whether dealing with customers, vendors, colleagues, investors, the press, or employees, well-developed people skills can be the difference between success and failure. Not to mention that the ability to learn from others in the field or to get connections and referrals is a necessity for any business to grow. Good leaders know the power behind continuous networking and building clientele. Businesses prosper when there is both a supply and demand and a good leader knows how to not only tap into both, but to also seek out others to help him do so.
Self-confidence is a key entrepreneurial skill for success. You can never let them see you sweat. A good leader is bold and does not let fear cause him to slow down or stop. Natural leaders smell success and are not afraid to go after it at all costs. Their pursuit of success can be fierce, but it’s necessary in order to reach the primary goal. Using the knowledge they have and an innate desire to press forward towards their goals, they are bold and decisive, recognizing that in-action can be a lot more detrimental than any simple action. They make decisions using assertiveness yet they are not aggressive. They act, as if on second nature, quickly to make necessary decisions to get desired results. There can be no second guessing of oneself in the mind of someone that wants to lead others. Decisions have to be made and a good leader is not afraid to step up to the plate and make the hard choices. They lead by example, always working harder to ensure the necessary tasks are done. They take the saying, “Don’t just ‘talk’ about it… ‘be’ about it” to heart. Their decision making skills are sound and determined.
Good leaders know that part of the entrepreneurial journey is learning from mistakes, rather than fearing making them. In order to be successful a leader needs to be ready to take strategic risks. American naturalist John Burroughs said, “Leap and a net will appear.” Risks are the foundation of leadership and innovation. Lots of people have big dreams but they are afraid to pursue them. A good leader knows that being unwilling to take a plunge can be the catalyst for failure. Waiting for a point of absolute certainty may never come. There comes a point for every good leader where they must act on instinct, believing that the resources they need will show up when they need them.
Perseverance is commitment, hard work, patience and endurance. In order to lead others, an entrepreneur needs to understand the importance of each of those traits if they want to succeed in their career. Rising to the top is not easy. If it were, there would be more leaders than followers in this world. Success takes hard work and a willingness to hang in for the long haul. Good leaders know how to keep their eye on the goal even when things are not going in a favorable light. They do not sway from pushing forward just because things are stacked up against them. They do not need reassurance of their actions; they have faith in the vision and will not stop pursuing their goals no matter what. It takes a strong person to refuse to allow speed bumps in life to stop them. Any goal in life will bring with it a certain bit of challenges, but a good leader sees those challenges and just steps over them.
It would be much easier if the road to being a successful leader were a road map of steps; a guarantee that if a person completed a certain procedure of tasks, then the title would easily be given to them at the end. But that is not the case. There are no hard, fast rules of actions to take to ensure success as a leader. The role is a bit more complex than that. Good leaders are the result of several productive, calculated and purposeful actions and abilities performed to excellence by an individual. Just like a good bowl of gumbo, the secret to success is in the individual ingredients that a person brings to any given situation.