A “TO-BE” List for Aspiring Leaders

A “TO-BE” List for Aspiring Leaders

I have the privilege each year of speaking to auditoriums full of aspiring young leaders, anxious to go out into the world and make their mark. They are looking for the “book”, the “roadmap” , the “words or wisdom” that will guide them to the things they need “TO-DO” next.

As we know, success in leadership and in the world is not only attributed to what you do; it is dependent on who you are and why you do.  Who you are comes across more strongly than what you sell or say.  We set young leaders up for a fall if we encourage them to envision what they can do before first considering the kind of kind of leader they want to be.

In supporting the kind of leader they must be, we enable and elevate their ability to influence, catalyze, and transform the future in a way we have not yet seen.

I have detailed the following TO-BE List for theirs and your consideration:

  • Be a Learner: You may have graduated from school, but never graduate from learning. Being a lifelong learner is what empowers your relevance for the rest of your life. Eric Hoffer captured it best when he said, In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” Don’t be equipped for irrelevance- keep learning.
  • Be teachable Teachability leads to excellence and excellence makes people take notice. Being teachable reveals your desire to improve, grow, and be excellent in all you do.  It’s the excellent that often lead in any given field or industry. Don’t fail to learn all you can from those who went before you or to grow from your mistakes.  Seeking out coaches and mentors will push you light years ahead of where you would be if you travelled alone.
  • Be A Question Asker.  I have been teaching and writing about the importance of asking great questions for a long time.  Great questions are the best way to have a meaningful conversation, the best way to rope in a mentor AND the best way to look like a star performer.  Make it a priority to listen to people asking great questions. Be in charge of the questions you ask and keep a list of the best questions you hear.  Use this to create a question toolbox you use and can apply to every conversation and interaction you have.
  • Be Courageous. If there was ever a time to dare, to make a difference, to embark on something worth doing, IT IS NOW.  I understand jumping into the world as leader can be scary, but now is not the time to be timid.  We don’t serve the rest of the world or ourselves by playing small. Humanity’s misfortune is when we don’t realize the very gifts we have, or the impact we have the opportunity to make. It is imperative that you own and honor your genius, and seek to make a contribution that matters.
  • Be Kind:  We lead our lives in the company of others, and that is where we leave our legacy.  Truly kind leaders – regardless of their title or position  – are the ones we all remember. They’re the ones we are grateful to.  It’s the quality of our relationships that most determines whether our legacy will be momentary or long lasting.  Don’t ever pass up a chance to let others know they are noticedand that they matter to you.
  • Be Patient and Persistent: I want you to be fully rewarded and recognized for your contribution to society. I also want you to realize, however, that most things of lasting value take time and discipline to achieve. HAVE FUN. DIG DEEP. STRETCH. DREAM BIG. Know that things worth doing seldom come easy. There will be good days. And there will be bad days. There will be times when you want to turn around, pack it up, and call it quits. Those times tell you that you are pushing yourself, that you are not afraid to learn by trying. I promise you the wait is worth it.
  • Be Passionate- Passion is not only a differentiator; it is a difference maker. Passion makes the impossible possible.Thats what makes a passionate leader effective. He or she conceives of possibilities and opportunities for progress whereas dispassionate persons only see roadblocks and reasons why a vision can’t be achieved. The more passionate you are to achieve your purpose the stronger your fire and internal desire will be to strive for your mission and purpose.
  • Be Confident:  You will not always be able to solve all the world’s problems all at once.  But don’t ever underestimate the impact you can have. Your efforts might not always draw the world’s attention, but as Teddy Roosevelt liked to say, “I hope that you will commit yourselves to doing “what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are,” because in the end, that is what makes you a lion.  Not fortune, not fame, not your pictures in history books, but the refusal to remain a bystander when others are suffering, and that commitment to serve however you can, where you are. Be confident in your power to be the change.
  • Be Hopeful: History has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own. No doubt, we live in challenging times. We also live in a time where nearly ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. As a leader your ability to be hopeful and dispense hope is crucial to helping those you serve thrive in face of difficulty. And there is much to be hopeful for. Believe in the incredible power of the human mind. Of doing something that makes a difference.  Of working hard. Of laughing and learning.  Of all the things that will cross your path. Of the ability to start something new. All these bring the hope of something great to come. 

So, what do you think? Would you follow leaders with these traits and qualities? What can we add or do to help nurture those who seek or are called to serve?

Leadership is a choice. The choice is ours to help them make; TO-BE or NOT-TO-BE.

That is certainly of the question of our time.

 This post was original published on switchandshift.com
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  • http://twitter.com/KateNasser Kate Nasser

    Angela,
    Very good list. It brings focus to the breadth of attitudes and skills needed to lead well. I love the fact you put “learner” at the top.  Learning feeds all success.

     I would add one more trait:  humility — which is different than weakness.  It removes resistance by focusing all on the true mission and not the leader’s individual success.   I wrote a few key thoughts about it here:
    http://katenasser.com/leadership-whats-so-hot-about-humility-anyway/

    I will share your post on my stream.  I think it is a great guide!
    Kate

  • http://twitter.com/KateNasser Kate Nasser

    Angela,

    Very good list. It brings focus to the breadth of attitudes and skills
    needed to lead well. I love the fact you put “learner” at the top. 
    Learning feeds all success.

     I would add one more trait:  humility — which is different than
    weakness.  It removes resistance by focusing all on the true mission and
    not the leader’s individual success.   I wrote a few key thoughts about
    it here:

    http://katenasser.com/leadership-whats-so-hot-about-humility-anyway/

    I will share your post on my stream.  I think it is a great guide!

    Kate

  • http://www.tyrellmara.com Tyrell Mara

    Great post, Angela! 

    These points are right on the money in terms of a guide that leaders (both young and old) can live by, learn from, and challenge their own journey with. There are a few that really resonate with me and where I am right now, I couldn’t agree more that being a question asker is a powerful vehicle in moving to engaging conversations- of course it is important to ask the right questions, and to do this we have to be genuinely engaged from a listening and input perspective- i think sometimes this step is overlooked. I think being courageous is so important right now, like you said, now is the time- if you want to do something, start a movement, lead a campaign… Now is the time !

    Thank you for your continued leadership in this space, Angela- I hope we get a chance to catch up soon!

    Cheers,
    @TyrellMara:twitter 

  • shannabright

    I love the concept of the TO BE list! Thanks for posting, Angela! This is a good framework for others to take and make their own. Along with Learner, I would add Listener. I would also add Be Positive and Be Purposeful. I’m curious what other leaders would add to their own TO BE list.

    So love this concept. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Cheers,
    Shanna

  • IrishQueen

    Wonderful TO BE list.  I might add BE YOURSELF.  Being true to yourself starts with knowing who you really are and what you value.  True unbridled passion comes from authenticity and can inspire others which is what good leaders do really well.

  • Roxana

    Great list and I subscribe to it in each aspect. With enough practice anyone can become a leader. You just have to want it. I would add that leadership is very important in   education also. You become a leader for your students and help them grow.

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