What does a leader look like? What attributes do they possess that others lack?
Harriet Tubman was once quoted as saying, “I grew up like a neglected weed, ignorant of liberty, having no experience of it”; yet she was able to overcome so much because of who she was; a natural born leader. Tubman’s role in the Underground Railroad highlighted her leadership side, but her reach of leadership went beyond that (her work with the military for example). People looked up to her, respected her, and followed her because of her leadership abilities. She may never have had an official sounding title that came with a big salary, but Harriet Tubman demanded the best in people, and that is what she got; their best.
In your own business, can your leadership team lead like Harriet Tubman? Can they influence others without a title? Will people follow them if a paycheck wasn’t involved?
Mother Teresa was the founder of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor. By the time of her death in 1997, the Missionaries of Charity numbered more than 4,000—in addition to thousands more lay volunteers—with 610 foundations in 123 countries on all seven continents.
Mother Teresa was one of the most influential and powerful leaders in modern history, and she did it without offering her followers money or incentives. She may be depicted as being a small frail nun, but when she spoke people listened. The truth is, Mother Teresa was opinionated, and not everyone liked her, but everyone respected her.
Who do you respect in your company? Who do your employees respect? Can your leadership team bring people together like Mother Teresa was able to do (on a smaller scale of course)?
There are leaders who will never get the recognition that they deserve, and that’s not always a bad thing because it takes different personalities, qualities, and strengths to make a business successful. As you walk around your company and evaluate the level of productivity, who do you see standing out as a peer leader? The individual employee who others look up to, asks advice from, and follows their direction. The peer leader does not have a managerial title, or make more money than their co-workers, but they possess something that the rest of the team gravitates towards. The person should be easy to spot because they are the employee that you talk to most outside of your leadership team.
You don’t have to be Harriet Tubman or Mother Teresa to be considered a good leader. You don’t have to have all of their leadership qualities, but you do have to have some of them. To be a leader you need to have followers; so ask yourself this question, “Why do people follow me?”, and then be genuine with your answer because your team already knows why.
April Salsbury, MBA is a strategist, an analyst, an operational guru, a recognized leader and C-suite global healthcare executive with drive and focus for competitive markets. Co-host of The Business Forum Show and regular contributor to various business journals, she possess multi-functional and multi-national competencies with more than 15 years experience in business and healthcare. Her expertise is in invigorating revenue growth and infusing value of lean practices in growing companies through improvements to cash flow and operations management.
Fueling revenue, growth and profit, Salsbury & Co. is a consultancy firm focused on helping businesses and healthcare organizations achieve excellency. Our specialists have executive experience combined with deep functional expertise to provide our clients with services that drive real impact and results.
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