Exceptional leaders are defined by their generosity. They give value, attention, counsel, insight, vision, service, guidance, protection, and inspiration to their followers. But there are a few things leaders cannot give away. In fact, there are a few things that they must take. They include:
1. Initiative. No one can give you initiative; you have to take it. There comes a time when you have to make the decision, then get off your rear and make something happen. In that moment–since there will be no path or road to follow–let your purpose and intent guide you. Trust both your education and your experience, your intellect and your intuition, to help you see where and when to go. Develop your sense of timing. Stepping too early can be just as bad as stepping too late. But remember: Inaction is worse than failure. Action is imperative; without it, nothing happens.
2. Responsibility. Leaders take responsibility for other people’s actions, not just their own. Growing up people told me to take responsibility for my actions–but you don’t really take responsibility for your own actions, you are responsible for your own actions. You may not always experience the consequences, but you’re still responsible for what you do. Taking responsibility is something leaders do. They assume culpability for what other people do. Again, it’s not something someone can give you, you have to take it for yourself.
3. Time. Finally, leaders need to take time. They need to be deliberate about how they invest one of their greatest resources. Leaders need to take time to care for themselves. They need to take time to get to know the people they’re leading. They need to take time to cultivate a vision, shape a culture, create a solution, communicate with others, and set the example. All of this takes time and none of it happens by accident.
Initiative. Responsibility. Time. Surrender any of them and your leadership will suffer. None of them will fall into your lap haphazardly. You must seize them, guard them, and use them to move yourself, your people, and your organization forward.
How do you take initiative, responsibility, and time?