Leaders are grown.

Leaders do not materialize out of thin air. They are cultivated and nourished. While many seem to be naturally adept at leading, most do require some type of direction. A leader is grown.

One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was that I had to create my own future. In my early twenties I felt as if the world existed for my benefit. In my faulty logic I believed the world would wait for me. It did not. A marriage, a child, job changes, money problems, divorce, another marriage, two more children and more job changes taught me that I had much to learn about life.

Seeing people younger than myself who had more education, status, and even money made me jealous. After a time I learned I didn’t need to be jealous. I needed to learn from my past behaviors and mistakes. I needed to take what I had learned in life and use it to help others. I say these things not because I consider myself a great leader, I say these things because I’ve simply lived.

Leaders are grown from successes, mistakes, hard times and good.

Leaders are refined.

There are people who are “natural born leaders”, but even they’ve had coaching at some point in life whether they knew it or not. Every challenge, and every difficult situation refines a leader much like gold is refined. Impurities are forced to the top and removed leaving behind a brilliant exterior. Millions of years of heat and pressure create gorgeous diamonds out of lumps of coal. Fortunately we need not wait that long. Leaders are born out the of the ashes of failure only to be reborn like that of the phoenix. I don’t want to learn from someone who has been flawless. I want to meet the person who can openly admit, “Oh yes, I have failed miserably, but I got back up and tried again.”

Look for leadership traits.

To sustain growth for the future you have to recognize leadership traits in future leaders and cultivate them. Train up those who can lead in the future. Who takes the lead in a crises? Who do others look up to? Look for leadership traits in your children, younger employees, and co-workers. Remember, these are the ones who will inherit the earth once we’re bound for a place beyond this world. Motivate, empower, and uplift those around you.

Leaders create leaders.

A true leader does not care who gets the credit. They want to see the project or mission through to completion and will praise and acknowledge all those who helped see it through to the end. Remember, you’re looking for leadership traits in others. Seek out those who are willing to take responsibility for their actions whether good or bad. They’re the ones you’ll be able to trust when times get tough. I’ll take experience over “book smarts” any day of the week.

I could write my own book on the subject. Not from the perspective of being a leader, but from the perspective of what I look for in a leader.

If you’re seeking a great writer on the subject of being a great leader, I highly recommend¬†John C. Maxwell, author of “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”.

Now go forth and inspire others to be better leaders!