I was a 17-year-old teenager who went to college as far away as I could and stay within the US mainland. That’s how badly I wanted to get away from home. Here was a typical kid from Bronx, with all the common traits of growing up in that environment. I believe it was God’s provision that I ended up under the tutelage of a great leader, my teacher and pastor, Robert W. May. His life and ministry has continued to impact my life through the years.
The traits I mention below were clearly evident in this inspiring leader. I’ve observed each of these while I was a student and even afterward. These are traits that I continue to focus on in my own leadership in various capacities.
1. Be Passionate
I love to be around people who are excited about things that are important to them. Within the first few minutes of your conversation, you know what moves their heart. Every time I am around someone like this, I am truly inspired to examine my focus.
This drives me to reevaluate my involvements. Am I doing what I am passionate about? It is easy to be busy with so many things that may be good, but not important enough for me to be passionate about it. The best option is for me to streamline all those items and focus primarily on what I am most passionate about.
2. Be Transparent
Some people are like a sealed safe with a six-inch steel casing. There is no imagining what lies within them. They may talk a lot but reveal nothing. It’s difficult to trust and follow such leaders. You’re always wondering what hidden agenda they may have.
Leaders who are transparent have nothing to hide. Their openness allows people to come close to them and to trust them. These are the leaders one naturally will want to follow. Their transparency greatly increases their credibility and will draw people to them.
3. Be Kind
The generously kind leader opens up the hearts and minds of those they lead. As their kindness opens up the hearts of people, they will have more influence to impact change.
As a young man with numerous flaws, I’ve experienced kindness in amazing ways. It was that kindness that gave me hope to look forward and to move forward.
4. Be a Learner
The problem with diplomas, certificates, and degrees is that it creates a false assumption that we have completed our studies. It also creates a qualitative divide between formal and informal learning. But lifelong learning is not about credentials as much as it is about growth and progress. Learners will always move in a trajectory that pushes them ahead.
5. Be Innovative
I suppose it’s true that yesterday’s successes can become our greatest hindrance in the future. We need to constantly find new ways to accomplish our mission. This is true for individuals as well as institutions. Once we become resistant to change, we begin on the road to failure. Constant innovation will help you to reinvent yourself. Your mission may not change, but how you do things will and must change.
6. Be Resolute
There will be plenty of people to oppose you in whatever you set out to do. But you, you must be determined. Know your purpose, and “do what your hand finds to do” on a consistent basis. Be open to ideas and opinions of people, but ultimately you’ve got to listen to the voice within you.
7. Be a Mentor
As a leader, be consistent in mentoring others. Pour your life into others who will become leaders. Be a resource, guide, and motivator. You should be able to look back and see a trail of leaders who have been impacted by your mentoring. Turn around now. Look back. How many do you see?
Many did not find any leadership possibilities for this confused teenager from the Bronx. But it was the guidance of a great leader that gave me hope and put me on the road to leadership. Each of the above lessons continue to teach and guide me as I face new challenges in each area of my current leadership.
Visit Alexi at Barnabas.in.