Happy Independence Day

American FlagOn this day, back in 1776, our nation adopted the Declaration of Independence. All those years ago, at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the thirteen American colonies announced their independence from Great Britain.

How many of you realize that as leaders we must also declare our independence? By definition leaders stand out, leaders take action, and leaders lead the way.

So, what distinctions make you a leader? What do leaders do, that the rest don’t?

First, leaders effectively communicate. Sure, we all communicate, but leaders communicate in a way that creates clarity (not confusion), asserts confidence (not uncertainty), and produces results (not excuses). In fact, you know when a leader walks into the room. Leaders communicate with their body language, their vocal inflection, even their words. They know their power, and communicate wisely.

Second, leaders manage their emotions. We all have emotions, that is part of being human. Some let emotions manage them, leaders manage their emotions. What life circumstances put you in a negative emotional place? Is it being accused, in front of your boss and team, for something you did not do? Is it when someone drops the ball on a dependency that causes you to miss a critical deadline? Or possibly it is when people just don’t do things the way you know they should? When we enter a negative emotional state we simply don’t make great decisions. And those decisions separate leaders from the rest. Managing emotions does not mean we stop feeling, nor does it mean we pretend. It simply means we manage those feelings to consistently create positive outcomes.

Third, leaders build teams. The simple truth is leadership has nothing to do with how many people we supervise. In fact, true leadership begins before we take on roles like manager or supervisor. Leaders inspire people to take action, whether those people report to them or not. Leaders build up those around them, directing actions in alignment with a clear vision, mission, and purpose. People follow leaders not because they have to, but because they want to. Leaders lead teams to achieve more and deliver measurable results, in ways they did not do before the leader showed up.

And fourth, leaders manage change. Change will happen, that you know for certain. Leaders understand this principle, and use pre-determined techniques to navigate this change when it shows up. Rather than live in surprise when the change shows up, they immediately implement proven techniques to manage the change and create the best possible outcome. They keep their change management tools in good condition, so these tools are ready to use when needed.

Are you ready to declare your independence as a leader? Save the date, August 15 @ 7 p.m. EDT

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