Are you really a Successful Leader written by a High School Senior class of 2015 . I find it appropriate to publish during graduation season.

I have participated in leadership training activities and programs since about 5thgrade. Throughout the years I have learned so many valuable tips and traits of being a good and successful leader. Each program or event I participated in has taught me something new that I didn’t particularly know or understand before; which has helped me to grow and have a very good understanding of what it takes to be an effective leader. Being a leader is more than just a position of power or having people who look up to you in daily life. It’s a position in life that requires you to hold yourself to a greater standard than the average person. There aren’t necessarily concrete steps to being a successful leader because being a leader is situational and different traits and attributes are needed in different scenarios/moments. So instead I’m going to give you ten MUST HAVE attributes that leaders hold in themselves; while telling you why they are important to have.
Remember, a leader is somebody who people want to follow and learn from. So with that in mind, 11 attributes essential to being a successful leader are:

  1. Confidence – People tend to follow in the footsteps of those who are confident and know what they are doing. As a leader it is always important to be confident because people find hope and comfort when standing next to someone who is sure in him or herself and the task at hand.
  2. Trustworthy/Real– If you were being lead by someone who is known for being dishonest and fake, would you put your full confidence in that person? You must build a trusting relationship with those you are leading; whether it be teammates, employees or a country, the people looking up to you must trust what is coming out of your mouth. Otherwise they will not perform to their maximum potential because they do not fully trust the task at hand.
  3. A Vision or A Dream– How can you lead anyone without a dream or vision you have for yourself and those you are leading? You can’t. Because then you, yourself aren’t even leading. You are just wandering aimlessly. When somebody ask you what you want to accomplish, you MUST have an answer or an idea of what it is you want to get done in your life personally and/or as a leader. Otherwise people will question why the person with no vision or dream is leading them.
  4. A Long-term Goal– It is essential for a leader to have long term goals in his mind so that every little task he does has a greater purpose behind it, a greater motivation. Things like winning a championship game (if you’re a sports team leader), closing a case (if you’re a detective working with your investigation team), or being the most watched news broadcast station of the year (if you are head of your news team).
  5. Short-term Goals– Short-term goals are equally as important as long-term goals because they are what lead up to you achieving your long-term goal. Short-term goals are the quick goals you want to achieve on the way to your ultimate prize. Things like winning the huge rivalry game, getting a lead to kick off the investigation, or finding an extremely captivating headline to kick off that campaign to being the number one news station of the year.
  6. Passion– You have to care about what you are trying to achieve. But you can’t just say you care, you must show everyone and make sure everyone can feel your passion for the task at hand. Because people radiate off of their leader’s attitude and passion. It is important to stay passionate because just like your peers feed off of your passion and excitement, they will just as quickly feed off of your negativity and indifference.
  7. Stay Humble– Just because you may be in a higher position or have power doesn’t mean you should forget where you came from. The people you are leading, your peers, have opinions and knowledge too. Don’t be afraid to hear what they have to say and learn from them. Because even the President of the United States needs advice and new knowledge daily so why wouldn’t you?
  8. Being Relatable /Approachable– People are sometimes afraid to approach people of power because they feel unworthy or inferior. Your job as a leader is to make sure your peers do not feel that way. It is important that they feel comfortable coming to you for whatever reason (especially questions or concerns). Relate to your peers on a more personal level so they know you are just like them and there is no reason to ever feel uncomfortable talking to you. Once your peers see you as one of them, they will feel more confident in themselves and you. Because if you can do it, why can’t they?
  9. Leading By Example- Leading by example is, in my opinion, the most respectable form of leadership. Because you are then putting yourself out there and doing everything you are instructing, right next to those you are instructing. Those you are leading will see you performing the task at hand by their side. There is no better way to show people you believe in what you are saying than when you are a living example of your own words.
  10. Never Stop Learning- No matter how smart you are or how much you think you know about the subject/task at hand always be open to new knowledge and ideas. The more knowledge you gain as a leader, or just in life in general, the better you will be at life and its many challenges. The better you are at living and surviving life’s challenges the more prepared and qualified you are to be a leader. Knowledge is often times the difference between winning and losing, success and failure, or even life and death. You have to thirst for knowledge.
  11. Sharing and Giving Credit Where It’s Due- Unfortunately you see people on television take credit for a successful game or event and totally forget about their supporting cast. As a leader, you will often be the one receiving questions and praise when you are successful. It is imperative that you give everyone who worked and helped you in achieving the success you did credit where it is due. Even if that’s just a quick shout out to your team for having your back and working behind the scenes. In failure, which is something every leader experiences, you must suck it up and take responsibility for that L or failure. You lead them to do what they did while performing the task, so it is your responsibility to put the failure on yourself.

Being a leader is never an easy task and the path to success isn’t always paved in gold. There are a lot of bumps and hard places along the path of success. But if you embody the attributes I named/explained above, and remember that you must believe in yourself before expecting others to believe in you, you will be a successful and productive leader.

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