Frances Hesselbein is president and CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute and former CEO of the Girl Scouts of America. She received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998 after fourteen years as CEO of the Girl Scouts as well as for being “a pioneer for women, volunteerism, diversity and opportunity.” She is the author of “My Life in Leadership” and is the publisher of the quarterly Leader to Leader.
In her interview with Darren Hardy, publisher of Success Magazine, Ms. Hesselbein shares some of her top tips from an esteemed leadership career. Here are her top 7 Qualities for Successful Leaders.
We are all looking for a place to go, the next step, but leadership isn’t an end, it’s really is just the beginning. It’s what you do along the way, how you treat people along the way, how you serve, inspire and move people along the way that really defines you as a leader.
In the movie Braveheart, Mel Gibson’s character, William Wallace said, “People do not follow titles, they follow courage…” Realize this along your journey in leadership, getting a leadership title is just the beginning of your journey. Now you have to lead.
Have you defined your values? Do you know what you stand for? If you were to imagine yourself super successful and being interviewed in front of millions of people that look to you for advice and leadership, and the interviewer asked, “What values defined your leadership style?” What would you say?
Most people say they have good values, or they are teaching their kids good values. But most of us have never taken the time to define them, to write them down and to rank them of which are most important to us. Then live these values everyday.
The old adage of be careful who you step on, on the way up, they are usually there to see you on your way down as well.
No matter who you deal with on a daily basis, there are probably some people you just pass by without ever thinking of saying “Hello” or “Thank You” to. In her interview Ms. Hesselbein recalls a story from her grandmother about precious Chinese Vases that she adored. It was a story of a Chinese immigrant who ran a laundry service and her grandmother was the only person that ever addressed him as Mr. As he was preparing to move back to China to be with his wife and child, he gave her the vases as they were the only thing that he had come to America with and she was the only person that ever really showed him respect. It was a truly powerful story.
Respect is one of the only things that you have full control over, the way you treat others and make them feel will always be remembered. They may forget what you said, but they will never forget the way you made them feel. Respect is one of those feelings that is not easily forgotten.
The mission is the “Reason Why.” Why we are doing what we are doing, why are we trying to achieve a specific goal?
Are you communicating the mission to your team, do they know what the mission is and does it relate to them. The mission is best communicated in a story, stories are powerful and make it more relate-able to others. It is human nature to be moved by stories, it’s why Hollywood makes millions telling the same types of stories over and over again.
In a story the hero is defined by the size of the enemy he/she has to overcome. The bigger the enemy, hurdles or problems, the bigger the hero, the bigger the mission the more people can get behind it, and take it as their own. Make it move people, motivate people, inspire people.
In creating a massive mission, and being respectful to all, you will naturally be inclusive to all. No one achieves success alone! Everyone that is successful has had help along the way, be it from mentors, friends, family, colleagues, a team or customers.
On the path to success there will be many people that come and go, by being inclusive you never know who will be the next rock star on your team, boost you to the next level, put you one step closer to your goal, so be sure to welcome all.
Is your team able to see themselves in you as a leader, in your vision and in your mission. If they cannot, it will quickly wear on your team. They need to be able to envision themselves, or someone like them within the organization.
Leaders need to project a vision that their team can see and believe, and see themselves as part of. Be relatable and transparent, this rolls into the final quality of being a great leader.
Leadership is not about barking orders, or sitting back watching the worker bees work. It is leading by example, it is teaching, mentoring and empowering others in the organization to become leaders themselves. That is the ultimate goal in leadership, to build and foster new leaders. Without this component, leaders are primarily managers. Developing the next generation of leaders is the final phase of true leadership.
The only way to reach this level of leadership is to embody the six other traits. Leadership isn’t appointed, it is earned and acquired.
This list of Leadership Qualities will serve you well only if you take action on them. Start now by reviewing your values and defining your mission, look at your team and how you can start empowering others to become leaders in their own way.