Practical Ideas To Enhance Effective Leadership

A stellar group leader is first a very good person, a role model in character and behavior. Further, in demeanor and approach, an effective leader emanates the “feel” of being part of the group rather than above it. Examples include endeavoring to talk with instead of to the group in tone and substance and working hands-on as part of the group instead of its boss in group-related projects and activities.

Recognize that you are a Role Model

People follow and readily acknowledge leaders that they respect. Like it or not, life-quality and authentic leadership go hand in hand. Like children with parents, people tend to and should watch how leaders live and react to circumstances more than they hear them. Thus, living lays the foundation (or not) for people to actually listen to you (actions and words) and embrace your position as a leader.

Own Your Mistakes and Resolve to do Better

No one is perfect, especially leaders who are often scrutinized in the spotlight. Whether in the context of daily living or actively serving as a leader, if you err, then own it and apologize. Subsequently, you move ahead with resolve and a plan to personally remedy any harm and commit to improvement. Similarly, no one knows everything, including persons in leadership positions because of recognition of relevant expertise. Thus, don’t pretend to be omniscient. “I don’t know” are among the strongest and smartest words ever spoken, often inciting a unique combination of empathy and great respect. Following not knowing with finding out and acting constructively upon it will further strengthen your leadership position and performance.

Learn from Experience via Periodic “Self Auditing”

Truly learning from experiences and reflection upon them is an important yet often underrated (if rated at all!) mechanism toward more qualitative living and leadership. Taking the time for a periodic and unrushed hard look at how we are living relative to our intentions and priorities, including as leaders or with leadership aspirations, is an excellent mechanism for progressive improvement. For example, we can pick a time (or times) of the year, such as the beginning of fall or a new year, as a season (or just a few days) of introspection to consider our priorities and goals in life, including leadership objectives. Honestly examining how we lived and performed over the past year or shorter period relative to what we really care about in life and leadership provides a foundation to: (1) re-assess our goals, and (2) establish new habits toward the hard work of making changes for the better. This can be especially effective when we couple it with daily routines to focus and remind ourselves of our intended new patterns to improve as people and leaders, people we would respect and want to follow.

This was a guest post by Walt Shelton. Walt is one of the most well-read faith and life-quality columnists in Texas. He has been a part-time Professor at Baylor Law School for 30 years and has led faith-related discussion groups for almost 40 years. Currently, Professor Shelton leads discussion groups in association with the Church at Highland Park in Austin, Texas, and otherwise. He also frequently speaks to other groups on ethical, faith, and life related subjects. His book, The Daily Practice of Life: Practical Reflections Toward Meaningful Living (CrossLink Publishing 2020) includes an Appendix with ideas for leading small groups, such as always being prepared and flexible, allowing for open yet unforced discussion, listening more than talking, and respectfully embracing differences of opinion. Prof. Shelton may be contacted via
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