Written by: Joe Kuhns
Being a leader comes in many shapes, sizes, and qualities. A good leader is not able to turn on and off their leadership ability or character traits at will. Instead, leadership is a habit built upon our core foundational character traits that have been pressed upon us, in us and around us.
We’re not talking about managers; there are big differences in the two with some overlapping similarities of foundational traits. Leaders can likely also manage, but managers are less likely to have the capacity to lead.
Leaders and managers are both important and have a place in every Advisor’s firm, no matter how small or large they may be. One of the biggest differences is leaders lead and inspire people, managers typically manage processes.
I’ve lived as a leader and speaker with practical life and military experience in various leadership positions from family to combat settings for the past 38 years. I was taught that during war you cannot manage men to their deaths, you must lead them. Sounds extreme, but true. In war I want to lead or be led, not managed.
How Leadership is Learned
Anybody can be put in a position of leadership, but that does not necessarily make them a good leader. Very few people are born leaders. Instead, leadership is learned and developed over time, through family, experience, failures, successes, and especially through good mentorship; the ones that pour into you consistently.
In childhood and beyond, we become products of the people that were powerful in our circle of influence. Teachers, professors, scout leaders, ministers, mentors, bosses and more.
A good example will exhibit common character traits; the foundational building blocks to a being a strong leader. Consider what you learned and admired from those influences in your life.
Some Traits Good Leaders Possess Include:
How to Embrace these Traits
Need an acronym to remember who we are and why we are? TBWAHCY
One way to easily remember this is pronouncing it “To Be Wacky.”
It goes like this:
Our Thoughts become our Beliefs, our Beliefs become our Words, our Words become our Actions, our Actions become our Habits, our Habits become our Character and our Character is who You are.
Good or bad, it all starts at what we think.
Take a moment right now and see how this has applied to your own life and why. Take a look at the role you play in your firm and whether you think you’re exemplifying leadership.
When I was growing up my father would tell me that I could be anything I wanted to be if I set my mind to it. He encouraged me, which means pouring courage into someone. When you discourage someone, you are pulling courage out of them.
I learned a great deal from an early age and those things became habits in my life. I started my leadership roles in the Boy Scouts and subsequently held many leadership positions in numerous organizations, always vocally involved in the decision making process.
Good habits are not something you simply read in a book or learn from a movie.
Habit formation is the active process by which a behavior, through regular repetition, becomes automatic and subconscious. This is all built upon the foundational experience of your childhood and beyond. But you can actively gain momentum towards better leadership by understanding the key characteristics that help leaders inspire others.
Are your habits embracing the traits of being a good leader? They could be. And if you want your firm to be successful and achieve new heights? They should be.
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