What separates leaders from followers

People are afraid to become leaders because the role demands visibility and vulnerability.

Even people already in leadership positions often shirk the essential part of their jobs requiring their presence at the front of the pack. They’re afraid of revealing themselves, or taking risks, or making decisions that affect other people.

It’s impossible to lead without putting yourself out there.

To be a leader means:
  1. You shape your opinions and decisions around the greater good of the project you’re responsible for. That means sacrificing your own interests and desires in favor of the mission at hand and the people working on it.

    It’s possible to match your interests with the requirements of the project, but the project comes first.

  2. You direct your energy in ways that create the greatest possibility of success. The best leaders go beyond their own resources and cultivate power in others. They use everything at their disposal, including persuasion, intellect, magic, free food, humor, political skills and generosity.

  3. You help all players see why they should devote their energy to the mission. What’s the greater good? What’s in it for them? Why is this worth the effort? Leadership can’t be forced or driven by authority alone. You inspire people to work hard.

  4. Your team believes in you. Slowly, you bring each person along until you trust each other. One big speech or morale-booster won’t cut it.

  5. You take nothing and no one for granted. You never rest on your laurels. You continue to ask questions, listen, delegate, improvise, innovate and move forward. After all, you’ve chosen to lead. You’re putting yourself out there to get a job done.
— Adapted from “Why you must lead or follow,” Scott Berkun, www.scottberkun.com.