The Most Important Leadership Lesson I've Ever Learned

A statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in San Bernardino, CA.
Leadership is a commonly used term that's thrown around various workplaces.  It's a trait that is admired in others, especially those in management.  If you were to go to any bookstore, chances are you will be able to find dozens of books on leadership.  There are leadership conferences that people pay large sums of money and travel around the world to attend.  Even certain colleges and universities offer some form of graduate degrees in leadership.

It is a topic that heavily intrigues and fascinates me.  On a daily basis, I read as many articles I can about being an effective, innovative, and successful leader.  I find it inspiring to read the stories about leaders who have impacted the world in profoundly positive ways (see Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Bill and Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett).

People who are leaders need to have certain traits in order to be successful.  They need to have a strong vision of the future to work towards, need to be great communicators (both good listeners and speakers), and are able to adapt to any environment and evolving trends.  From my experience in education, retail, and non-profit management, the most important leadership lesson I learned was from joining Zeta Phi Rho fraternity in college.  A mantra that was present in all our meetings, events, and daily lives was "Lead by example." 

That is a lesson that I have taken to heart.  Every single leader I admire leads by exemplifying expectations.  It's advice that has helped me everywhere I've ever worked and anywhere I've had to coordinate with other people.   It's something that I keep in mind every single day when I'm at work.  I try to show my students what a responsible professional looks like.  I model for them critical thinking, problem solving, and how to thrive in a global economy.  For my colleagues I put my best foot forward in order to help the team move forward.

When Ghandi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world" I am certain he understood just how important it is to set the example so that others may follow. 

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