As a leader, it is important for you to think through how you can best lead your team. But before you can lead others, you must learn how you can lead yourself. To maximize the impact you can have on the people around you, you must develop your Active Leadership ability.
By Active Leadership, I mean leadership that is fully engaged and intentional. Active Leaders think through the impact they want to have—and the thinking they need to cultivate to achieve it—and they deliberately use every opportunity they have to influence their followers to that end. They take their responsibility as leaders very seriously because they realize all their actions have ripple effects.
As you learn how to better lead your team—and how to lead yourself—here are three areas where you can implement an Active Leadership perspective.
1. Active Leadership in your ACTIONS
Everything you do will have ripple effects. You will maximize your impact as an Active Leader if you are always conscious of what you do and the effect it will have on others.
If you consciously and consistently take actions with regard to the impact you will have on those around you, then you can proactively create the culture at your home or work. The people around you will know what you would do in a given circumstance because they will have seen you act the same way over and over.
You do not have the luxury to excuse your actions by saying, “Well, they know me.” You will damage your potential as an Active Leader if your actions are not consistent with the kind of persona you want to project. You must think all the time of the potential ramifications of your actions.
When my kids were younger they deputized themselves as the Hypocrisy Police. When my actions veered from what I said I would do, they were quick to tell me. Your team will be the Hypocrisy Police too. They will take note of your hypocrisy, but unlike children, they will not tell you when you have crossed the line. Instead, you will lose credibility with them as a result.
Your culture at home or work will be created by a thousand little things you do. If what you do is not consistent with the persona you want to project, then you will squander the opportunity for true Active Leadership.
2. Active Leadership in your WORDS
Your words as a leader have powerful effects. The words you say will reverberate in people’s heads because of the position of influence you occupy in their lives.
You cannot excuse what you say by thinking, “Well, they know what I mean.” Actually, it is likely that they don’t know what you mean. Do you really want to leave what you say as a leader up to their interpretation?
You need to create clarity by what you say. You must say the same kind of things all the time, so they will know what to expect from you. Remember: to be unclear is to be unkind.
It is also important to be consistent in what you say and how you say it—at home and at your workplace. As a father or as an employer, I know that the words I say have great power over my kids or my employees. A single harsh or flippant word can undo many intentionally said words.
The culture at home or work will be created by a thousand little things you say over and over. Choose wisely what those things will be.
3. Active Leadership in your THOUGHTS
To be an Active Leader, you must have a handle on your thoughts. You must be aware of how you think. Because your actions and your words will spring from your thoughts.
As a leader, you must lead your thinking. It is important for you to be aware of the conversations you have with yourself. Be mindful of what your mind’s full of. You may not be aware of your self-talk. But it will have a profound effect on you—and on everyone around you.
If you tell yourself, “I’ll never get that right,” understand the implications of what you have said. Don’t limit your effectiveness by your beliefs. Think through the tapes that play in your head. They may well be as a result of things people have done or said to you because they were not Active Leaders. Don’t allow yourself to be held back because of something someone said or did years ago.
I used to be controlled by fear so badly that I wouldn’t be able to move forward. I needed to become aware of my fearful thoughts long before I could get the fear out of my speech and out of my actions. Today I am very conscious of the thoughts I have, and I work to correct them quickly when they try to lead me down the wrong path.
Your words and your actions will be controlled by a thousand thoughts you have all the time. Be conscious of what you think, so you can be conscious of what you say and do.
You can be the kind of leader you want to be—and you can be the leader that the people around you want you to be. But you have to get serious about your Active Leadership. Your Active Leadership has to be implemented in leading your actions, your words, and even your thoughts—all the time.