What it takes to be a leader
HAVE you ever wondered how young leaders are made? What is the difference between you and Mark Zuckerberg, who set up Facebook at the age of 20? What holds you back from being like Steve Jobs, who founded Apple Inc. at the age of 21? What differentiates you from William Pitt the younger, who became the British Prime Minister at the age of 24? What stops you from being like Mohammad Bin Qasim, who conquered Sindh at the age of 16?
Do you dream to be like the iconic pop singer Nazia Hassan, who was the only Pakistani singer to receive a Filmfare award and remains the youngest winner in the category of Best Female Playback Singer to date. She was only 15 years old when she received that award.
What will you be busy doing at that age? What are you busy doing with your life today? Take a minute and think about it!
The entire world salutes youth leaders and change makers. Despite their age, they make a positive change in the world. Do you wish to become one of them? Do you strive to create history?
Read on to find out how to effectively harness your potential of becoming a young leader and making it big in life!
Leadership consists of two elements — the ability and willingness to rally people to a common purpose and to have a character which inspires confidence in them. Character is the key to lasting success with people and the main indicator of character is action.
It does not matter how young you are, if you exhibit a strong character, people will look up to you and automatically start trusting and respecting you. If a leader does not follow up on his or her word, the confidence and respect bestowed upon him or her is instantly lost.
Unlike talent, which is a gift, character is a choice — you earn it with hard work and dedication. Therefore, like all good leaders, you must strive hard to keep your character high so that you can be trusted as a competent leader.
Charisma is the first impression and the major dealmaker or breaker in the life of a leader. Unlike what is commonly believed, it is quite easy to create charisma.
When you are more concerned about making people feel good about themselves, they automatically start to feel good about you in return. Thinking about others and their concerns before your own creates charisma. Therefore young leader ensure that they are not stepping on anybody’s head to raise their own height. Instead, charismatic young leaders do just the opposite — they delegate authority and let their team members enjoy the credit.
Birds of a feather flock together. Thriving leaders choose their company wisely. They are mostly seen in the company of books, like-minded individuals, elders, intellectuals and scholars.
Follow leaders, learn how their minds work. Take advice from your parents and mentors. Shun bad company because a man is known by the company he keeps.
Ideal leaders glow with optimal health because they know that if they will not take care of their own health, they will never be able to take care of others. They visit the doctor regularly and take medicine on time to heal all illnesses. They also take time out from their busy schedule for exercise, games and entertainment with friends.
They avoid bad company and unhealthy food like plague. You will never witness any good leader consuming paan, gutka, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, sheesha and chhalia because they know how harmful these things are.
Focus is the by-product of two elements, priorities and concentration. A leader who knows his priorities but lacks concentration is aware of what to do, but can never get it done. If the scenario is reversed where the leader has concentration but has not prioritised, the result is excellence without progress.
So if you wish to become a great achiever, make a list of your priorities in life and follow them through with concentration and conviction.
The ideal breakup of your focus of time and energy should be as follows:
• Focus 70 per cent of your time and energy on your existing strengths. Develop them to their fullest potential.
• Focus 25 per cent of your time and energy on new things. When you let your mind learn new things, it expands your view of the world. This growth leads to a positive change in society.
• Focus five per cent of your time and energy on minimising your weaknesses. Let others be in charge of the tasks that you are unable to complete as they are your weak areas. Avoid wasting time on your weak areas, always invest in improving your strengths so that you can become the “best” at your trade.
Education and teachability
Educate yourself as much as you can. Be teachable. Learn new vocabulary and acquire new skills, reinvent yourself frequently. Never kill your curiosity. Attain knowledge, talents and abilities in a methodical, ever-expanding and dedicated manner.
Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, Shakespeare, Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford and all other great leaders were extremely literate in their fields of endeavour and once an area was mastered, they worked hard to expand into new areas, learning about them and mastering them as well.
Smart career choice
Futuristic leaders are goal-oriented. They plan and decide well for the future. They make five- and ten-year plans and follow them through.
The most important decision for you in your student life will be what field of education to choose. Make sure that the field you choose to pursue should be in line with your skills, potential and interest. It is better to choose humanities and be an expert in your field than to choose science and be an average student.
Remember, there is always room for experts in every organisation, but average students have to face fierce competition and in practical life they are offered a comparatively low income. This translates into a low standard of living in the future.
Therefore choose wisely. Do not choose a field of study just because your friends have chosen it or others expect you to. Listen to your inner voice and weigh the benefits and risks. When it is time to make the decision, consult educational and career counsellors, visit universities, search the internet, attend seminars and open houses, speak to professors and students, discuss with your parents, elders, peers, teachers and mentors to gather as much information as you can about the different choices you have for studies and plan your career accordingly. It is worth the effort because your future depends on it.
Self-discipline is the decision of character that a leader makes for himself because the first person a leader leads, is himself or herself. A leader follows all the rules religiously, never quits in the face of adversities and keeps going with strength and resilience because the entire team depends on it.
Fire, passion and initiative
Work hard with dedication and ignite the fire within you. You know that you can do anything you set your mind to! Love the life you have and join hands with your team to take the initiative of making the world a better place.
If you are not a high achiever in studies, that is no reason to back off as a loser either. More than 50 per cent of all CEOs of Fortune 500 companies had C or C-average grades in college and nearly 75 per cent of all US presidents were in the bottom half of their school classes. So what is stopping you? Take the initiative and go, achieve what you want to achieve!
Vision, communication and responsible action
Young leaders are courageous and have clear visions. They are not afraid to voice their opinion respectfully and responsibly. They think in non-contemporary ways, analyse their options in detail and believe in themselves strongly.
Charismatic leaders are calculated risk-takers, therefore instead of jumping into opportunities blindly, you should stay calm and refer to your vision for the future before taking a step. Good leaders communicate their vision well to their team and provide a lens for the followers in such a way that their vision runs in the veins of the team and they can feel responsible for the change.
They also don’t run away from taking the blame if something goes wrong. Nobody is perfect and a good leader is not afraid of assuming responsibility for the action, apologising, learning a lesson from the mistake and moving on. This is how a leader creates a special place in the heart of the team members.
Young leaders are generous and give wholeheartedly. They believe in serving others. Our candle will lose nothing if it lights another candle. If you wish to lead the world, start with being grateful for the blessings you have and put others first. Money is just a resource, therefore do not be controlled by the desire of material possessions. Money has been given to you for a purpose, therefore use it for the good of others also.
People honour leaders who are “givers,” not “takers”, therefore, try to be the upper hand that gives to others, it is the law of nature to give back many folds. Leaders start the cycle of positivity and generosity because they know the law of karma — what goes around, comes around!
Relationships, respect and tolerance
The most important formula of success is knowing how to get along with people. Remember that every person is a product of his or her experiences, which is why everybody is different. The leader should promote a healthy environment and nurture healthy relationships. A leader also knows that no one is right or wrong in an argument. The conflict is not of people, but of the viewpoints that they are voicing.
Therefore, the leader should try to decrease the tension by respecting them and mentoring them to understand the issue. Tolerance is the key to healthy relationships, forgive small mistakes and get along. Good leaders make their team feel special, they try to understand their point-of-view, give them hope for a better tomorrow, provide them direction, encourage them and help them win. If you are a good team player, half of the battle is already won.
Walt Disney said, “If you can dream it, you can be it”. Having a positive attitude is a conscious choice. It determines your actions and how people treat you. It helps you as an ally in hard times when you are lost and everything seems dark. Always let the twinkle of hope, the ray of optimism shine in your eye because whatever happens, happens for a good reason, and Allah knows best.
Spirituality and religious strength
Leadership is nothing but faith followed religiously. Learn to meditate in hard times and listen to your inner voice. Famous leaders are known for being in touch with their inner self and soul.
When modern education fuses with religion, it forms a strong combination. When you follow this rule, you will notice that the easiest path to practicality is religion. Dynamic leaders (whether religious or non-religious, spiritual or non-spiritual) always follow the rules advocated by all religions, like honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, empathy, love and respect for everyone, humility, tolerance, clear intention, teamwork, humane vision, collective good and complete trust in God or a better future.
When you follow your religion in practical life, it provides a beautiful balance for this world and Hereafter. This is the key behind the success and fame of the prophets and religious leaders also. All religions emphasise on the collective benefit of humanity. Be humane and you will be the best leader because Allah will support you. Amen!