Distinguish Yourself as a Leader, Not a Boss

Gerard O'donovan
6 min readJun 28, 2017

Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Rosana Nedelciu (Romania).

People are eager to find out about how-to recipes and success pills. And are eager to reach the top quickly, just to see that they have thousands of followers who admire their leadership qualities — but secretly envying them, to be invited as speakers where they can talk about their success, to show their worth to as many as possible and even impact the entire world… that one forget success is not a destination, but the journey itself.

The journey of finding how-to yourself, based on your uniqueness. Realizing your inner dialogues. Projecting a positive outcome while accepting and working with limitations. How life unfolds as a long book that does not promise to give the recipe of success, but offers a great gift of using your own mind and your own path to create it. The voyage of both finding and creating the wonders that comes with being a human being.

I am lucky enough to have met and worked with real leaders. Those who are more than ”tickets” to a higher position or success. Who are aware they can be regarded as, ordinary people. These leaders have offered me the opportunity to witness the human being in one of its wonderfully impacting manifestations. The Observer as I am, among the many qualities they possess, I noticed a few leadership traits that seem to make up a core around which all the others gravitate:

I. Leaders build their professional success around their personality and not the other way around. Evidently, they have strong personalities, quite the opposite of the “Yes man” type. They believe in themselves and in their own recipes.. They do not follow some rules that leaders are supposed to follow (to be considered as such), and plenty of times they use their gut against the common sense. Plenty of times they say NO to one direction or another and thus seem “negative” when, in fact, it’s called knowing where they are headed.

II. They listen. This is probably one of the reason’s they are loved and admired: they listen actively and, so, make those around feel that their presence is acknowledged and their message significant. Leaders bring out the best in people by making them feel heard and recognized, appreciated. And we all know what happens when we feel that way, we open up and share, and that is a great input for a leader. Not because the leadership manual says so, but because they value experience and because they know what a goldmine that sharing may hold.

III. They surround themselves with kinds of intelligence. Diverse and multiple expressions of intelligence that come from diverse and multiple angles of seeing an issue. Why? Because success must be unearthed and it takes all kinds of probing minds to work together on doing it.

IV. When relating to their team members, or interviewing, they do the opposite of what we are used to from most of our superiors:

  • Instead of sizing us up to find reassuring signs of limitation and submission, thus posing no threat to them,
  • Instead of listening to us talk about our experience only that they can find and emphasize the part where we are not quite tailored to the Job Description, thus making room either for a rejection or for a “long learning time, away from a promotion” while on the job,
  • Instead of looking for reasons that strengthen a rather opposite position,

Leaders look for what brings us close, for what we have in common, for what we can build together. Leaders are not looking to differentiate themselves from us, but to include us and make us part of the “we” in “We are creating a success story”. That’s not to say that they do not see the part where we are not quite the JD in person, and many hire professionals that are not the most experienced or prepared for a certain role, having observed exactly that. But they don’t stop there; they don’t let the NO’s make the final call. Somewhere in time, life has set them on a “find the opportunity” mode and that’s what they are doing. None of them has gotten where they are by choosing situations or persons who were already polished diamonds. They know better than that. So they look for potential, even in successful professionals with an impressive track record, leaders still need to see the potential.

V. When they mean positive, that’s what it is. Leaders are not to be found among those who, in the name of YES, manipulate you to become a NO. “Your position doesn’t give you authority to have a say on this” or “Who are you to question my methods?” are transformed into “Thank you for sharing that with me” and “What do we do about it to make it right?”

VI. And, the mother of all leadership traits: they feel responsible for every single person in their company. True leaders are profitable and successful but are still aware of their responsibility towards the people who believe in them. A CEO running a business that became profitable just because he would outsource and downsized to half is not a leader. (S)He’s an accountant.

What have I learned from them? That leadership takes practice in real life, with real people who, often times will not agree or support you, however wonderful your vision may be. And training on leadership doesn’t do this for you; nor does repeating “I am a leader” 100 times a day, with visualization and all.

The way I see it, positive thinking is not about forcing yourself to a wonderful successful future. It’s not about imitating, about repeating somebody else’s success. Positive thinking is about creating the life that you want by acknowledging your limitations and working with them. It’s about the stubbornness of going after what you want and saying NO if that’s how you feel. Because, sometimes, negativity is actually a way our psyche that chooses to revolt and it can be an excellent trigger for genuine development. It’s about being real as to who you are and allowing your growth in your own unique way, free of ready-to-apply recipes. But you have to trust that you can do it.

Inner growth — with its quality as an essential ingredient in leadership– is a process of trial and error that no one can go through on your behalf. If there is a person in this world who knows you and can help you find the right recipe, it can only be yourself.

So, by all means read, get information and give yourself room to ponder on any leadership recipes you find, but don’t be quick into accepting any of them as “a sure way”, or worse, your way. You would be wasting yourself. Because the more you follow someone else’s path (no matter how successful they are), the farther you are drifting from fulfilling your own leadership potential.

Instead, re-focus on yourself. Give yourself space and time to be your own success guru. Use your own experience. Learn and make up your own recipes and, gradually, become your own follower.

Become the Number 1 Fan of the Leader you have grown inside.

Credit Source:

Rosana Nedelciu (Romania) — HR professional with 7 years of management experience and international exposure. Expertise areas: Executive Search, Learning and Development, Internal Communications and Performance Management. Owner and creator of TheHView coaching concept (The Human View on Personal and Career Development) http://thehview.com Author of the book ”Mother is Love, Why do You Speak of Cancer?” http://www.iubirenucancer.ro

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