We've all heard the saying: "Leaders make others feel special." So, what makes a positive leader others want to follow and how do leaders emerge?
Being the smartest, loudest or most aggressive person in the room does not make you a leader. Humility, and a combination of unspoken, unwritten skills such as empathy and confidence, with smarts and savvy help make a leader other people look up to.
Leaders make 1000 little decisions every day. Little decisions that add up over time to be a good thing. Being a leader does not mean instant gratification. Most leaders come to it over time. This process may seem boring to those quick fix seekers. Those who think they are going to win the lottery. The 'pie in the sky' crowd. How many leaders do you know who came to success, fortune or fame instantly?
Leaders know their own voice. They nicely say what others may be thinking. They speak the truth, but always diplomatically, trying their best not to insult others. They are brave and steady, which to some may seem, again, boring. Leaders have to be able to take criticisms from others and respond with calm. Leaders discern right from wrong. They make 1000 good decisions for themselves every day. They speak earnestly and have empathy for others.
Speaking the truth, even if it is spoken kindly and with empathy, is a hard decision. People don't like hearing the truth. They don't like it. Speaking the truth like a velvet hammer can be done, with practice. If the truth is too hard or harsh for the other person to hear, appropriateness of timing and subject matter must be taken into consideration. Speaking the truth does not mean you can say anything you want to anyone and it's OK, just because you said it nicely. Practice, practice and practice.
Some leaders can talk as fast as they can listen. Some leaders are simply quiet observers. Most are confident and have a content outlook on life. Happy leaders will attract others like themselves, a bit like a cheerleader. The rare natural leader has an easy "sprezzatura" of manner or charisma. They are comfortable in their own skin. They display a given confidence in a crowd, are kind, humble, giving, and sympathetically aware and appreciative of others.
So, be a leader through good little decisions. Consistently. Every day. Always.