Steps 5 & 6 of 12 Simple Steps to Being an Exceptional Leader
Steps 5 & 6
Getting through these steps slowly but surely. None of the steps are complicated, but they aren’t necessarily easy to do. When I first identified & shared these 12 Steps I thought I had a clear idea of what I wanted to write. I understood each step in my mind. But when it came to articulating what was in my mind, it was a bit more difficult than I expected. Some days what I write does not make sense, so I have to put it away, think & read some more; then, pull the ideas together again. Nonetheless, I am sharing with you.
We are all human, which means we are not perfect. The main thing I want to encourage is that we all aim to do these 12 Steps. When we fail, apologize if others have been hurt, forgive ourselves, & start again. Remember, none of us knows what someone else is going through or feeling. We each have our burdens, demons, & problems, but we are all different. Listen to others, be empathetic & help if you can. Which brings us to Step 5.
Step 5: Helping others when asked; just being there when not asked. Support others in what they are doing or trying to do.
When asked, help out. Sometimes you can even help out when not asked. But do be careful with that. I have gotten into trouble by doing something I thought was helpful & would save the other person time only to be accused of overstepping my boundaries. Though I still don’t think what I did was wrong, my feelings don’t matter in this case, because the other person felt I had done wrong. Look also at the other side; what if someone needs help & doesn’t ask; could you help anyway.
Have you ever been up to neck in work, & seen your partner or co-worker lounging, without a care in the world. The other person doesn’t even seem to notice you are drowning in work. I know when that happens to me, I end up seething inside & become angry with the lazy lump just sitting there. Shouldn’t they be able to see that I need help? My mind isn’t that hard to read. My rational self knows that no one reads minds, so if I didn’t ask for help, then I am not going to get help. I am starting to think that the correct question isn’t do you need help but, what can I do for you? Or, ask something specific i.e. “may I dry dishes for you”? After all who among us wants to admit we need help? But, often there is something someone can do; even get a cup of coffee or a glass of water, or stir the sauce while I go to the bathroom.
Help can come in a different form than doing a task for someone. Helping can also be psychological or emotional support. Encouraging the student, parent, or co-worker as they struggle with a new task, or role. Listening to a friend or family member who needs to vent thoughts & feelings can also be very helpful & appreciated. During my many returns to school, while continuing to work full time, my husband took on an extra load by doing the shopping & some extra work around the house. I would not have been able to do it all, or we would have starved & lived in a pig sty. Take time every day to observe & ask “what can I do to help someone today”.
Step 6: Inspiring – Self & Others
Who inspires you? How do you inspire yourself? The second question is a tough one. Who is much easier. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, or Mahatma Gandhi often come to mind as inspirational leaders. So what makes an inspirational leader? According to a 2011 Forbes article there are seven items shared by inspiring leaders: 1) Ignite your enthusiasm (You have to be passionate), 2) Navigate a course of action (Have a vision, articulate that vision, & create an action plan), 3) Sell the benefits (What’s in it for me? Let people know how they will benefit from seeing your vision come to fruition), 4) Paint a picture (Tell stories; what brought you to this point, what will the results look like?), 5) Invite participation (Invite your employees, students, or whoever is involved to share idea e.g. do as university profs do, schedule office hours for people to schedule a time to share ideas with you), 6) Reinforce optimism (a positive outlook attracts others; a negative outlook pushes others away), 7) Encourage potential (help those with whom you are involved to achieve their goals & dreams). When is the last time you received or asked for inspiration from your boss or manager? I like these seven item, but I want to add honesty, humility, & walking your talk, by living your values. Adding those three items makes the list a bit more complete.
Are your dreams & goals enough to inspire you? If they aren’t maybe you want to rethink your dreams & goals. You need to be passionate & excited & show those feelings to others. You also need to follow through to make those dreams & goals a reality. Others will judge you not by your dreams, but by the dreams you make come true.
I sometimes wonder if I am able to inspire. I am passionate about nursing & I believe my passion shows through when I talk about nursing, when I teach about nursing, & when I discuss the importance of leadership in nursing. That is an area where I sincerely hope my passion inspires others. What is your passion & do you demonstrate that passion in a way that inspires others?