A leader must be decisive, think under pressure, exert good judgment and guide others toward a common goal. The attributes and skills to lead are similar to all leaders whether they are head of their household, lead a networking group or are head of a company or country. The difference is the pressure which one must lead under and the ultimate outcome of their direction; will a botched decision mean you go to war or simply messed up a reservation for your family vacation. We witness the rapid aging process our country’s leaders all go through; as the responsibility increases so does the stress level.
During this time of year all the BNI (Business Network Int’l) chapters go through a process of selecting a new leadership team which goes into command each October 1st. The most important selection is the president or leader of the respective chapter. Like the captain of the ship, they will guide their group through their journey for an entire year. The president becomes the key icon and truly sets the tone of what that chapter will become; will it be an energized group of go-getters or people which enjoy sharing coffee and complaining about their clients on a weekly basis. The president’s energy level, or lack of it, will determine how successful the ship will sail.
A key consideration is that each leader must strive to accomplish the group’s goals; otherwise, if you are just a smiley face then you degrade to being the emcee for your group. For BNI, the main purpose is to generate referrals ($$) amongst its members. That is accomplished by following a proven structure and strategy which has been fine-tuned over the last 25 years. A leader, in any capacity, should be well aware of the main purpose for their organization; few groups have only one purpose but failing to accomplish the main one makes the other ones unimportant by comparison.
It seems like everyone has suggestions on how a chapter should run or how a business should operate but how many, given the opportunity, would actually step up to the plate and take the responsibility of leading? We love the idea of being the main guy or gal but what about the work involved and having to balance the constant desires of the masses. Leaders make unpopular decisions for the sake of the group or for the sake of fair play. Members will gripe at you, ask for special consideration and beg for exceptions; making an exception once means making it forever. But for everyone that has stepped up to take on this role, the reward is one of immeasurable personal insight and growth.
Coaching from the bleachers is one thing but taking on the responsibility of managing or leading a group toward a common goal is quite an experience. If you have the opportunity to become president of your BNI group or any other type of group you belong to then take it and take it enthusiastically. No therapy or motivational books will replace the experience. Are you fair, will you guide firmly yet with empathy? Are you capable of being energized meeting after meeting even when something throws you off kilter?
Here are 4 definitive reasons to take on a leadership role at least once in your life.
1) You are in the limelight; all eyes are on you and all attention is focused on how you execute your role. Perform your duties effectively and doors will open in other arenas for you. Want to expand your circle of influence, add a nice bullet to your resume or expand your business network? – become a leader!
2) Learn about yourself. You have opinions on how to make things better or more effective; we all have had them run through our minds as we sit through any meeting. Now it’s your chance to execute and put your ideas to work.
3) Learn to manage people toward a common purpose; key skills for any manager. But most importantly, learn how to manage adversity and a variety of personalities. How do you handle complainers and others which seem to find issue with everything you do? This experience will inevitably make your decision process more analytic.
4) Develop teamwork skills. Every leader has advisors, staff support and other support roles which help them accomplish their mission. Delegating tasks and assignments in a positive, supportive manner is required to get everyone to work as a unit.
My belief is that leaders are born with some basic leadership attributes but most great leaders develop them through their own efforts and life experiences. My own leadership experience helped me value teamwork and responsibility and has put it in a much different perspective. Now I’m much more likely to contribute, participate and contribute to any group at some level and be less critical of the smaller issues than I was in the past. There is a leader inside each of us and we should embrace the opportunity to allow it to blossom.