What is Leadership? Leadership is the ability to inspire and motivate others. And to lead is to direct others’ energy toward a shared or common goal.
“Genuine leadership is only of one type: supportive. It leads people: It doesn’t drive them. It involves them: It doesn’t coerce them. It never loses sight of the most important principle governing any project involving human beings: namely that people are more important than things.” —J. Donald Walters, The Art of Supportive Leadership
Many of us at some point in our life must take on the role of a leader– whether at home, at school, or at work. And whether we are natural leaders or not, the following tips on how to be a more effective leader are meant to inspire you to lead yourself and others in achieving success in all areas of life.
Note: A team is defined as those coming together for a common goal, and so will be used here to reference those being led.
Steps for Becoming a Supportive & Successful Leader:
1. Know yourself. Start by knowing yourself and where you want to go in life by creating a personal mission statement. Include the objectives that will help you to achieve both the short and long-term goals that support your mission.
Having to think deeply about why you are here and what you want to accomplish gives clarity about who you are what you want to become. This enables you to draw from your inner strength within– from a strong center or foundation that you can then utilize to more effectively lead others. If you don’t have this inner clarity and motivation to accomplish your own goals, you will not have the magnetism needed to inspire and motivate other individuals to accomplish shared goals.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” —Oliver Wendell Holmes
2. Know your team. Once you have a team of people working together, it is important to complete this process as a group. Ask your team what the overarching vision is for accomplishing these shared goals, and why you all care about making this vision a reality? What are the shared core values at the center of these goals? What is the shared mission statement? And why?
Inspire one another so that you may share in a common direction or vision. This strengthens the group and makes it easier to cooperate and act together harmoniously. When people can work as a team, they can work synergistically toward the common goal to achieve success.
3. Visualize outcomes of success. We call this the envisioning process: Use deep, detailed visualizations of the outcomes you want to achieve, reinforcing their manifestation and helping to magnetize what you will need along the way. You may want to come together to create an affirmation to attract these experiences.
The vision and affirmation can be used to support or develop your shared mission statement. This will unite everyone on your team and help them to commit to supporting it through their individually identified roles. This will allow for a greater context throughout the process for everyone to refer back to, in order to be clear about their next steps and come back to the why or inspiration for whey they are giving their energy to this vision.
4. Practice time management. Throughout the various projects and among the various roles required to complete your mission, it is important that people learn to prioritize and organize the actions they need to take for the mission to be fulfilled.
Teach your team how to organize and execute in order of importance while allowing them to maintain balance at work, with family and loved ones, in their spiritual life, for their physical and mental health, and creativity.
The challenge with time management lies not in managing time but ourselves. To really understand and know in your heart your priorities you must practice discipline and self- control.
This means that you and your team must practice creating organized, priority-driven to do lists that reflect your vision. And this then must be balanced with inspiration and guided by each individual’s intuition about what next steps not only look right, but feel right. There must be positive energy behind completing a task, but individuals must see the importance of completing also those tasks that are less inspiring but need to get done.
Sticking to the priorities sometimes isn’t always easy. Things come up, emergency phone calls happen, and personal and work life often get mixed up. This is why teaching each other how to say “yes” to the things that are in line with what they need to do that day, and also how to say “no” is essential for staying on track both short and long term.
Qualities of an Effective Leader:
The following are qualities to keep at the forefront of your consciousness, to affirm, and to practice daily in order to become a more effective leader:
- Ability to expand your awareness
- Openness to change
- A holistic, balanced perspective of life in harmony with all the different roles you may have within and outside of the home
- Principle-centered, dharmic, virtuous
- Ability to delegate and give responsibility to others, letting go of control
- Trust in others: allowing people to make mistakes and to grow from them
- Leading by example: your actions represent your values
- Remain positive and solution-oriented despite hardships
And lastly, but most importantly:
“The essence of leadership is giving energy, not receiving it. View [your] role as a simple service to others.” —Swami Kriyananda
To continue reading so you may go deeper within these concepts, you may enjoy the full booklet: The Yoga of Joy: Awakening the Warrior Within.