In my career, so many people who have shared with me their passion and vision about being a leader. While their dream may be very well rehearsed and detailed, I’ve found that most are not clear on how to develop and inspire the team they will need to get there. We tend to think that all we have to do is talk about our vision and everyone else will “get” it and jump on board. 

The truth is, most people follow the leader before they follow the vision. So as a leader, it’s critical to understand your responsibility to lead by example. This is not only true in business, but in leading our families as well. 

Leadership comes with a cost; a willingness to go first and lead the way. 

Go-first leaders demonstrate confidence and set the culture of the team. Sometimes, that means stepping out in faith, even before you have all the answers. Leaders understand that they must:

  • Embrace the vision and be willing to do the work it takes to achieve it. You are not above the daily grind. 
  • Set the example, pace and tone of the endeavor. If you don’t show your team the way, how do you know they’ll ever get there?
  • Remain consistent and steadfast, understanding that you always have room for growth. You love the pursuit of greatness, and never expect to “arrive. 
What if you’re not sure how to go first? 

Here are 3 ways you can begin to develop a leadership mindset: 

1. Believe in yourself. If you want people to believe in you, you’ve got to believe in yourself first. Your mindset must be one of positivity and confidence. Your team will follow your lead, so lead with decisiveness and authority.  

If you’re struggling with confidence in your leadership skills, start pouring into personal development books, blogs and podcasts. Self-growth should be a daily habit – at least 30 minutes a day. Find an author  or mentor you connect with and plug in. Over time, your mindset will change. 

2. Set your own expectations. Never let anyone out-work you. As a leader, you set the bar high and you aim for it, every day. Establish trust and credibility by living up to your expectations. Statistics show that most of your team will only perform at about 50% of your level. The lower you set the bar, the lower they will perform. Aim high and show them an outstanding example of progress through consistency. 

3. Keep commitments. Integrity is key to building trust and responsibility in an organization. If you are not able to keep your word, your credibility will be challenged and your team will likely suffer. Have an attitude of integrity. Don’t make commitments you know you cannot keep, and keep the commitments you make. Ensure that some of those commitments are to care and support your team, family and doing your job to the best of your abilities. 

Leaders, or those aspiring to become one, must be willing to “go first”. Whether you are the leader of a Fortune 500 company or toddlers at home, you will reap what you sow. A great leader will love their team enough to demonstrate confidence, boldness and integrity. 

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