Becoming a great leader isn’t something that happens overnight, but it can be achieved through discipline, hard work and a commitment to improvement through experience. Great leaders aren’t born, as some people suggest; instead, they are shaped over time. And, while what makes a “great” leader in one application doesn’t always apply to others, there are some general rules that all great leaders follow. So how do we become one of the good ones? For some guidance, we sit and spoke to Jason Ma, he wrote the book young leaders 3.0.
How do you define a good leader?
A good leader starts with your own character. it starts with your own values and beliefs. it starts with a good belief system. I think a good leader is one who influences people to achieve a set of goals or a mission. the great ones are really good at inspiring others, I think a good leader is good in communication, is compassionate, really cares about the project, or the company, or the club, or the mission, communicates real well, and really brings out the best, or brings out the goodness of the team around him or her. There’s many more to leadership, but those are some of the traits that I see that are important.
There’s an old saying that “leaders are born, not made.” is that true?
Not at all. A good leader could certainly be learned. Learn to be a leader, get coaches and mentors to help you, do a lot of self-study, google, read books. I really encourage kids to read books; nonfiction and good fiction because I believe in the humility of continuously learning, improving, questioning, good things I think certain things that are so important about leadership is to hone your mindset. I call it practical psychology, where it’s really about your belief system or story and your management of your state, your emotion, as well as skills. couple that with a strong sense of direction; you couldn’t go wrong.
Michael Jordan has said that you need to “earn your leadership every day.” How do we do that?
It is very important for you to lead by example, so people see you, people feel how you work, people can sense you. For example, I guarantee you, Michael Jordan would probably be the first guy who comes into practice and spends the longest hours practicing shooting his moves, his strategies, his reflection, more than most people that are not as great as him. One thing that I look into when I look at how successful they are, is how do they prepare. It’s really the quality of the preparation, the heart, that has, that pretty much result in how great they are. One time I watch him play, way back, before you kids were born, and he had the flu. he was still playing and he was giving 100% .That is a good demonstration of leadership.
Is being a leader something everyone should strive for, or is it okay to just be a follower?
First, a leader needs followers. the majority of people are followers. Be a good follower. It’s fine. everyone does not have to be a leader, per say. A leader could also be a follower, based on projects. You could be the head of a club or head of a company, and but for certain projects, part of your teammates, one of your teammates may be the lead and you become a follower. You become a support cast. So in a way, it’s situational.
Make it dynamic and adaptable, I think, is very important.
Any last advice about leadership?
Practice, learn, practice, learn. Tap into your potential. Act. Be outcome focused. Be purpose-driven. Know why you do things because knowing why and what is more important than how’s and of course, you have to define how because a roadmap, your execution plan, in other words, your action plan to achieve important goals. All those are important too because without great execution, nothing really matters.
Being a good leader doesn’t mean just being the person ordering everyone else around. In fact, many people say that the best leaders have a talent for not making people feel like they’re being led.