How to Be a Real Leader

A real leader is someone who steps up to guide others when the need arises. It's not about being a hero, a bossy know-it-all or a chief in charge. It's actually about knowing where to place the right people at the right time, to get the best from those people in a way that helps them to feel as if they're contributing and feeling fulfilled. It's something to be performed with humility, grace and a good heart.


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    Use your experience to help others. If you already know how something would be done well, lead by example and make space for others to follow what you are doing. Do not dissuade people by telling that only a few chosen ones are clever or capable enough; instead, inspire everyone to find that piece that they can contribute and make a difference in doing.
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    Be someone who comes up with a solution that is the most acceptable and doable. If something isn't working, a real leader thinks it through and looks for the angles that will help solve the problem while thinking of others' needs, not one's own. The creativity actually comes from those who accept and move the solution forward, so don't get bogged down in trying to be the creative problem solver; be focused on getting out solutions that others relate to and are willing to work on.
    • Ask yourself: Will the solution be acceptable/workable for others?
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    Consider how you will involve other people in the solution to fixing problems. Letting go of the solution so that others can improve upon it, add to it, build on it and tailor it to everyone's needs is a large part of being a real leader. There is no need to try to perfect the solution yourself; indeed, to try to do so is to shut others out, which is more managerial or territorial by nature, and does not reflect good leadership. Allow others their moments to shine by fostering the environment where that is likely to happen.
    • Delegate efficiently and willingly. Let go of your knowledge, your ideas, your thoughts by sharing them and putting them out there to percolate among those you trust and know will take up as their own cause and motivation.
    • Be sure to avoid making the tasks, work or actions burdensome on others. Take great care to match the right people to the tasks they're best suited for, the right skills to the right actions needed.
    • Check that others are comfortable with what they've been assigned to focus on or do. If not, find out ways to tweak this so that it will work better.
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    Share your vision. A real leader both has a vision and willingly shares it. It should be something you're passionate about, that you know will help the greater good and that is considerate of all persons involved. Your vision is something that will motivate others, even during the hardest of times, and will give strength, hope and support to everyone involved. Motivating people through your vision is a skill that is deserving of your best efforts.
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    Be a good decision maker. Make the necessary decisions, especially those decisions that others are afraid or unsure to make. While it may seem hard at the time, always think of the longer-term consequences and the betterment of everyone's situation. A manager will have far shorter-term thinking, focused on making things okay now; a real leader must have the courage to push beyond that and see the future, causing disruption now for the sake of the cause or vision succeeding in the future.
    • Making tough decisions does not mean harming people along the way. A real leader finds gentle and supportive ways to deal with untenable situations, poor performers and anything likely to cause problems. Deal with people with dignity by being open, forthcoming, honest and generous.
    • Through good decision-making, your leadership qualities will be respected by many. Although there will always be naysayers and the discontented, a real leader cannot be swayed by this, noting that once the decision is made it requires no regrets and a continued focus on the vision.
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    Check that others are enjoying your leadership style. Do not be afraid of criticism or feedback. It is the news you truly need to inform you as to whether or not you're doing things the right way as a whole or whether you're about to have a rebellion on your hands. The earlier that you hear, listen to and learn from bad news, the faster you can resolve the problems and discontent and ensure that everyone feels engaged and involved again.
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    Be inspiring. A real leader will be inspiring and lead people to believe that their job or task is calling and a vital responsibility, not a burden or chore. To have people actively loving what they're doing is what real leadership should aspire to. It is not your legacy that matters, it is the quality of what you've inspired others to do and become that truly lives on.


  • Treat others as you want to be treated.
  • Remember––leaders are not born, they are made from the fires of experience and from learning respect for fellow human beings.


  • Don't be the ruler; be the guide, the shepherd, the way-finder. Help others to find their own sense of direction and values.
  • There will be times when you wonder whether you're doing the right thing. This is natural and is, indeed, the sign of a healthy leader. Beware feeling omnipotent, for at this point, you've crossed the line from leadership to dictatorship. Always value the self-questioning and doubt as part of your inner moral compass working effectively.

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Categories: Leadership and Mentoring