A look at what it takes to be a strong leader

You know the speech when you board a plane: “In case of an emergency, put the oxygen mask on yourself first before putting it on others.”

This same message can be applied to would-be leaders: “Build your own critical leadership characteristics before being a leader to others.”A good place to start is your mindset. You have to know that you can push past limiting beliefs, tackle new opportunities and succeed in getting what you want out of others (and yourself). Knowing precedes your ability to succeed and paves the way for you to bring your leadership to the table.

Envisioning is the next step for success. As a leader, you alone have the power to share your vision for major objectives with your team and empower them to identify specific strategies to address them.

Developing leadership skills may also require altering old constraints. This may include freeing yourself from fears, past decisions and evicting disempowering thoughts. Plan for what you want to create, don’t focus on things you want to avoid.

Methodical and disciplined
Accidental success is a myth. A leader is methodical and disciplined. Trust your intuition, but also take further advantage of it through research and dialogue. A leader knows how to fail forward — to look for the lessons in failure and move forward with new opportunities.

Leaders delegate, recognizing that good people want to be part of something exciting. They inspire with a winning plan, creating a strategy that enables individuals to become mentally and emotionally invested. Leaders are masterful at creating a clear vision and enrolling others for the exciting journey.

Leaders show respect, acknowledging the successful efforts of their management and staff. Offering sincere support to these valued colleagues is both rewarding and motivating.

Leaders know how to laser-focus and establish boundaries that keep themselves and their team on track. For example, if email, phone calls and meetings are taking away your focus, group them together only during specific days and times.

Leaders should carve out time for reflection. Whether it’s a daily hour or weekly block of time, leaders should consider the protection of critical “still time” as non-negotiable.

Leaders must be willing to fail — but not to expect to do so. In order to be successful, give yourself permission to make wrong decisions. By allowing the possibility of negative results, leaders are actually saying, “I’m going to get into motion regardless of the outcome.”

Otherwise, they may run to the edge — but just look, don’t leap. Without risk, you stop yourself before you’ve had the chance to succeed.

Navigating the ‘fear storm’
Leaders know how to navigate through “fear storms.” Arm yourself with information, knowledge and advice. Leaders must always be willing to look fear in the face and then take action.

Leaders are magnets for people they want to attract. They cultivate enthusiasm, possibility and the “wow” factor in their relationships, which also encourages the desire for others to circulate in their universe.

Perhaps most important, leaders must be clear about the non-negotiables, a core list of qualities, characteristics and values that will not be altered. Above all else, integrity should be at the very top of your list.