written by Charles Chi
Having good leadership skills can insure success in almost any field of endeavor. Whether you are a small business owner or in the military, how far you go and how much you grow can be directly attributed to your leadership abilities. Certainly not everyone can lead nor is every leader destined for glory, but most of us have a potential to go far beyond what we think possible if would just spend some time developing our leadership skills.
Before we start talking about how to become a better leader, we must first take a look at what a leader is and what he isn’t. Leadership is not about the prestige of your title, but the quality of your character. Real leadership is not about the position you hold; it’s about the actions you take. Great leaders spend their days helping those around them manifest their highest human potential while they work towards a vision that adds value to the world at large. As Robin S. Sharma wrote in Leadership Wisdom from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, “The greatest privilege of leadership is the chance to elevate others’ lives.”
Some of the best martial arts fighters in history have often turned out to be the worst teachers. Have you ever wondered why? To be a good teacher there are certain attributes necessary to be not only successful, but to inspire students to greatness.
Skills such as being patient, compassionate, a good communicator, intuitive, and of course physical skills are all necessary parts of the equation but most importantly without leadership skills no one will follow you. A leader must continually be able to show his students that he has a very clear destination for himself and his followers. If a leader fails in that he will quickly find himself alone as he wanders aimlessly throughout life’s journey.
Your job as the leader is to inspire, motivate, hold and communicate your vision to your students and staff. Leadership is very proactive – you want to be in front of the situation instead of catching up to it or feeling like it’s being dropped on you.
Success coach and leadership expert John C. Maxwell states that there is a lid on how far any leader can go, but that without exception, every leader can improve his leadership skills with the proper guidance. Sadly many people just will not admit that they have to develop themselves and continue to blame everything on anything else, from the economy to other people. One of the first things to learn about leadership is to accept responsibility for your failures and for the failure of your team or organization.
Evaluating Your Success
One of the easiest ways to judge your success in anything you to do is to count. If you want to see how good you are at making friends then count how many you have. If you want to see how successful you have been at saving money just start counting. The same is true for leadership skills as an instructor: just count your students and their personal victories. I’m not just talking about students who have been involved in martial arts competitions. Some students have come to you to lose weight, while others just want to be able to run up a flight of stairs without feeling winded. Your student’s success must be measured according to what their personal goals were when they first came to you. Keep in mind that everyone who comes through your doors does not have the same love for martial arts that you do, most people just want to look better and feel better. Only a very small percentage of the potential students that come to you will ever want to become fighters and enter competitions; certainly there will rarely be enough to run a successful school. It is your job to help people at whatever level they present themselves. Their passion for martial arts will be cultivated as they start to feel the benefits from their training. Ultimately you will have the biggest influence on their lives if you do your job correctly as a leader. Remember, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. A true leader is loved by his students – not feared.
Now you might say, “I’m a really good teacher, but I don’t have a lot of students.” As a leader, you have to evaluate the situation and ask yourself why? Have you failed to communicate the benefits of being involved in your program to the general public? If you are indeed a good teacher, you need to let people know that you can help them. That involves marketing. You can either fire yourself as a marketer and have someone help you who knows what they are doing, or start reading books and attending seminars that can give you the necessary information you need.
Some instructors report, “I have a lot of people come into my school and start training, but they usually quit in the first three months.” As a leader you must understand that if people came to you with a specific, need and you were not filling, it they will go to someone who will. In addition, you may have overwhelmed them with a too-complicated curriculum and they felt frustrated. On the other hand, you might have bored them to death by not teaching them enough. As a leader, you must evaluate each new student to establish his needs and goals on an individual basis before you just throw them into your program.
Time to Make Some Changes
Smart leaders know that the time is now. If you don’t act on life, life has a habit of acting on you. The days slip into weeks, the weeks slip into months and the months slip into years. Then we wake up one day, in the twilight of our lives, and wonder what could have been.
Give Yourself a Test
In her best selling book on leadership, award winning author Loral Langemeier describes the 5 C’s of Leadership that she believes are necessary characteristics required to build a great a leader.
The “5 C’s of Leadership” are:
Character – your internal makeup, your personal DNA. To develop a stronger sense of character, get to know yourself: assess, evaluate and correct.
Capacity – your mental ability to conceive or perceive. Internalize and lead a concept until it is expressed through your vision. The company’s results are your feedback.
Credibility – your personal integrity, a mirror of your actions as opposed to words.
Courage – the inner strength required to overcome obstacles and move your business toward your vision.
Communication – the ability to translate your vision into actions.
Of these five qualities, on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being low, how do you rate yourself? What will you do to increase your capacity in all of these areas?
What will you do?
What do you want?
What will the impact be?
How does it impact the strategy/project/goal?
Remember that leaders strive for mastery over mediocrity. The quality of your professional and personal life ultimately comes down to the quality of the choices you make every minute of every hour of every day.