Finding your leadership potential:

Credit: Ann H | Pexels.

Contrary to popular belief, leaders are made, not born. In your academic endeavours, leadership may seem far-fetched, but it is attainable. Whether you’re looking to step into the military, sport, government, education, or any organisation – there’s a place for leadership in every domain. While there is no one-size-fits-all formula – one must be willing to stay humble, keep an open mindset, and be ready to fail.

Becoming the servant

Enter the realm of servant leadership, where the guiding principle is to serve – an approach that bridges the gap between leaders and their teams by leading from behind. This approach thrives on active listening and an open mindset to cultivate an environment of mutual respect.

“To lead people, walk behind them.” – Lao Tzu.

Rather than imposing biased opinions, this style empowers individuals to make autonomous decisions, fostering collective growth and success.

“The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” ~ Kenneth H. Blanchard.

Credit: iStock.

Harmonising differences and change:

Transformative leadership is another style of leadership that inspires greater confidence in others. These types of leaders are not afraid to adapt to change and embrace leaders, and like servant leaders, they are fueled by an open mindset.

“Management is about persuading people to do things they do not want to do, while leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could” – Steve Jobs.

For instance, in teams where you find a diversity of gender, race, ethnicity, physical abilities and religious beliefs, one might find this as a challenge. However, a transformative leader will see this as a space to spark creativity and understand the importance of a balanced approach. In turn, this can allow a space for great collaboration to achieve successful outcomes.

“I define a leader as anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.” – Brené Brown.

This leadership style contrasts with a fixed mindset, which believes that abilities, talents, and characteristics are pre-determined. When considering transformative leadership, it is essential that leaders do not avoid challenges and find these characteristics a continuous work in progress.

Beyond that, it acknowledges that leaders are also subject to failure and growth, where taking on people’s feedback is simply part of the journey. And this is where we step into the importance of adopting a growth mindset. 

Adopting a growth mindset:

Leadership encompasses not only guiding others – but also leading oneself. People who adopt a growth mindset believe one’s abilities, traits, behaviours, and character can develop through dedication and hard work. Accepting feedback and channeling that energy into improving yourself daily fuels personal growth.  

“I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan.

By resisting automatic negative thought patterns that make us want to return to bad and outdated habits, we can cultivate an environment of curiosity and learning for personal and leadership development.

Role models like Roger Federer exemplify daily perseverance and relentless practice, with their leadership extending to figures like Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

“There is no way around hard work. Embrace it. You have to put in the hours because there’s always something you can improve.” – Roger Federer.

Drawing inspiration from others’ strengths, we can also learn from their failures to prompt introspection. While exploring our limitations might initially seem critical, a growth mindset transforms them into sources of resilience and progress.

Ultimately, you don’t have to be in a leadership position to lead others. You may be leading others without even realising, where the art of nurturing good habits can inspire others, setting a ripple effect. As you embark on your journey, remember that leaders are moulded through dedication, open-mindedness, and a willingness to learn from failures.

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