You’ll Never Become A Leader If You Don’t Take The Time To Do These Things First

It’s not always about being the strongest, bravest, and most intelligent person in the room.

Madison Epting
Jan 10 · 5 min read
Photo by Jehyun Sung of Unsplash

For the most part, the majority of us would like to see ourselves as leaders at some point in our lives; however, there’s a common misconception when it comes to leadership and the ability to lead and that is they are synonymous. Becoming a leader can be provided by a mere shift in a title at work, but what it means to exercise leadership can be entirely different.

“A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them.” — M. D. Arnold

When we think about what it takes to become a leader, we oftentimes think of traits along the lines of experience, intelligence, and assertiveness. This thought process suggests that anyone who possesses these traits is an automatic leader, but this is a strong misconception. Being an active leader takes more than just the willingness to stand before a team and delegate. In fact, becoming a leader requires a fundamental shift from the inside before any fulfillment occurs on the outside.

Do you have any idea how few people in today’s world are truly willing to accept the criticism they offer place for in their life? How often do we ask another person for their thoughts and then respond in an argumentative way to their critique? This is because we were never truly interested in hearing their thoughts to begin with. We must understand the importance of other people’s thoughts and adopt the ability to shift our preconceived notions to the side so we can offer acceptance in response to their thoughts.

We, as humans, are incapable of knowing every answer to every question to the realization that you can learn from others, is an imperative step in the direction of becoming a leader.

We oftentimes find out a great deal about a person when they are under intense scrutiny and stress. When negative emotions are amplified, true colors tend to surface. I have written about the ‘5-second reflex’ in previous posts — a practice that consists of waiting a minimum of 5 seconds before acting on an emotion that encourages impulsivity. In other words, by allowing yourself the 5-second window to analyze the situation and notice what it is you are actually feeling, we can prevent ourselves from making irrational decisions.

In an interview on The Impact Theory with Jocko Willink, he uses typing an email in an aggressive manner as an example of this. He goes on to explain that if you find yourself smashing keys on the keyboard in a fit of rage, typing an email to whoever — don’t send it.

“When you react, you let other control you. When you respond, you are in control.”
Bohdi Sanders

Willink implores his listeners to exercise control over their emotions and explains that it begins with the reality that when you feel heightened emotion, it is your ego standing in the way of your understanding. As long as we allow our ego to replace the empathetic parts of our minds, we will never become the leaders we wish to be.

One of the biggest hurdles we have as humans is to allow total acceptance of the fact that not everything is going to be about us. You won’t always be the most intelligent, the strongest, the bravest, etc. person in the room and that’s okay. The need for relationships in our lives is an important step in the direction of leadership. We must accept the fact that we are not able to accomplish the ability to lead without relationships in our lives.

Each relationship brings to the table something unique, but of equal value to the next. Though we may be similar in personality and perspective to some, our life experiences are unique and trigger results that can be an asset to our future growth. Having people in your life that can shed light on the things you have been kept in the dark about for the majority of yours can option a new door of leadership opportunity for you. Every relationship is a chance to learn, not just about the other person, but about yourself too.

“Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.”
– William James

When practicing leadership, opinions don’t matter as much as the ability to listen does. We’ve all heard the saying, ‘Opinions are like a**holes, everyone’s got one,’ but do we understand the true meaning of this observation? Yes, opinions can be of value when we are asking for the criticism mentioned in the first point, but what if their viewpoint is different from ours? This can lead us into an emotional response that is more destructive than constructive. That being said, it is important we know how to encourage insight without allowing opinions to get in the way.

The voices inside of our heads that combat the words of the other person can have a detrimental impact on the progress of our leadership goals. So know when to share your opinion and when it is time to detach it from the situation.

Though we can all become leaders, it isn’t something we can achieve without real work and self-reflection. It isn’t about how many people are beneath you, but rather the people you elevate with you. Emotional stability is something every single human being desires to cultivate and it is obtainable with these points in play, but (as with anything else) it requires a commitment to consistency. Do you have what it takes?

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Madison Epting

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Writer. Poet. Philomath. Dog Mom. Traveler. Creator. Partner. Wanderer.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +582K people. Follow to join our community.

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