NILA (National Institute for Leadership Advancement), an annual event planned by the national organization SHPE (Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers) will be happening this week in Albuquerque. I have never attended NILA, but I have been a proud member of SHPE for seven years and one of the biggest lessons gained from being a member of this wonderful organization, is the importance of leadership and serving others.
As a SHPE member and as President of the SHPE Phoenix Professional Chapter, I have had the opportunity to mentor students ranging from elementary school to college and a few months ago, I gave a presentation on what leadership means to me in order to prepare the Arizona State University SHPE Chapter for a conference.
The definition of leadership, according to Google, is the action of leading a group of people or an organization. In order to demonstrate what leadership means to me, I sat down and really reflected on what I had learned in my life, what I had learned in the past seven years as a SHPE member, and what I had learned in the past three years as a professional engineer. I thought about people in my life who exemplified the characteristics of a leader and I created a list of 10 things you should aspire to do in order to be a leader. Enjoy!
#1) Be accountable, and stand up for those you are leading
Someone who is accountable can be a manager or a team lead who takes the heat when things go wrong. If you are leading a group of people and the first thing you do is assign blame when something goes wrong, instead of shouldering the mistakes then it will be difficult for people to follow you.
#2) Do what is necessary, even when it’s difficult
Being a leader will not always be easy, you will have to make some difficult decisions or do something that may be difficult for you. It can be something like motivating a team to continue working when disaster has struck, or being able to inspire others when you yourself aren’t quite inspired.
#3) Do what will benefit the rest of the group
As a leader, you will have to have the interests of the people you are leading as a priority. And this might mean having to fire someone who who is not conducive to the team’s environment or the company, which isn’t an easy thing to do. But it is up to you as a leader to think of your team.
#4) Trust yourself and allow others to trust you
Being a leader means that people will be following you, and it’s easier to follow someone who is trustworthy. You have to be the type of person that people want to follow, the type of person that paves the way, and the type of person that makes you feel like you are going in the right direction.
#5) Have a plan no matter the situation
This next one is a quality that I see every day in my day job as an engineer. We have constant group meetings with very intelligent people who are leading the organization towards innovation. There are days when my teammates and I walk into a room that is in complete chaos, where multiple solutions are being thrown out in a hectic manner. I love to observe the leaders in my group step into the room, assess the situation, and walk out with a clear plan.
#6) Set yourself up for success
Thinking about where you want to be in the future and putting yourself in positions where success will come to you is an important quality of a leader. If you don’t know where you are going, it’s unlikely that you will get there. Not many people become leaders by luck, most of them are leaders because that is the path they chose.
#7) Know your limits
Someone who knows what they don’t know and asks for help from their team is a leader. If as a leader you aren’t able to find the answer and you’re too proud to ask for help, you will never get the answer. And asking for help from your team will give your team the confidence to work with you.
#8) Step in for others when they can’t fulfill their responsibilities (but be wary of crossing a line)
Someone who notices someone is having trouble fulfilling their responsibilities and reaches out is my favorite kind of leader. A leader is someone who encourages others to be their best and sometimes this means allowing someone to grow in the areas that need growth. Helping your team will always be appreciated by those following you, but I will stress that someone who completely takes over for their team and doesn’t allow the team to get any work done, is not a leader.
#9) Recognize others
High performing individuals are not afraid to applaud someone’s efforts, it will not diminish your own efforts. A great leader is someone who is happy when their team accomplishes something incredible, there is no room for feeling jealous or threatened when you are a leader. Plus your group will appreciate you when you recognize them.
I’ll leave you now with two of my favorite quotes about leadership:
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams
A good objective of leadership is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better. – Jim Rohn
The last part of my presentation was interactive and I asked the students the following questions which I will now ask you. This was the best part of my presentation, in my opinion, so I hope you take the time to answer the questions.
- Think of a person that you consider a leader, what attribute makes them a leader?
- What leadership quality from them or from this list can you adopt into your own life?
- What will you take from this presentation/post?
- Will you tell that person you admire and consider a leader the impact that they’ve had on you? Something as simple as a text, phone call, or email can mean the world.
Let me know if you agree with this list. Thank you all for reading, and stay enthusiastic!