What does it mean to be a leader? What traits does a leader possess? Do you consider yourself a leader? Why or why not? Too often, leadership is defined based on a person’s position or hierarchy. There is a tendency to wait to take initiative to lead until a person “has the title.” We need to redefine leadership, because leaders don’t need titles. How can you be a leader, right now, in every role in your life?
Begin by identifying successful leaders. Think about family members, friends, mentors, teachers, managers, religious/spiritual figures, politicians, and experts in your industry. Reflect on the traits they possess that make them a strong leader. Is it their character, how they build relationships, expertise in their field of study, how they communicate, their passion? Connect the traits you identified to you. Which traits are your strengths? Which traits provide opportunities for your intentional growth? How can you apply leadership traits in your current position, at home, in school, where you volunteer? I believe character matters and is a critical trait of successful leaders. Strong character establishes trust. If people do not trust you, they will not follow you. Establishing trust cannot be demanded. It is earned over time through your actions. In all areas of my life, I focus on following through on my commitments. Whether it is in my role as a mom, friend, Chief Producktivity® Officer, choir member, or teacher, I place a priority on my commitments to others so they know they can count on me.
Redefining leadership by traits rather than a title allows you to commit to life-long leadership development. You can be a leader right now and make an impact throughout your life. There is a no more appropriate time to focus on leadership than on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Dr. King would never have had a profound impact on the Civil Rights Movement if he had waited for a leader title. He developed his leadership throughout his life as student body president in college, as a pastor, when he was elected to lead the bus boycott, as one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and in his I Have A Dream speech. Add value to your community, family and friends, and workplace, and commit to being a leader today.
What trait do you think is the most valuable to a leader’s success? What is one specific action you will take to commit to your growth as a leader? Share your thoughts and experiences, join the conversation below.
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Leadership is about trust, truthfulness, credibility, and integrity. These are character traits we value in our country and around the world. I agree wholeheartedly that social workers, in particular, need to play leadership roles in their agencies, practices, communities, and in this country. It is spelled out in the Code of Ethics for NASW.
Thank you for your thoughtful response. Thank you for your valuable work as a social worker and for committing to being a leader with your clients, within your communities, and in our country.
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