by Lou Heckler
Great leaders reach a high level of performance because they choose to lead and, as such, aren't normal! Normal is following the pack. Normal is holding back. Normal is jogging in place. Great leaders move ahead by making these choices in their lives:
Competence -- People who wish to lead are life-long learners and they know that just "staying even" won't get them anywhere. They build into the regular schedules opportunities to learn and grow and stretch. They never presume that yesterday's knowledge and talents will still work tomorrow
High Expectations - Leaders realize that most people rise or fall to meet the level of expectations they set - or others set for them. They constantly look for ways to do new things that will help them see beyond where they are now. They also know that sometimes they have to reach well beyond what seems possible, agreeing with author Roger von Oech (A Whack on the Side of the Head) that it's easier to tone down a wild idea than it is to tone up a dull one.
Ongoing Relationships - Leaders know that the world moves at the speed of relationships and they are committed to dynamic networking. The absolutely love to link people together and especially to link people to fresh ideas. They are nurturers and encouragers.
Innovation - Top performing leaders love to look at old problems in fresh ways. They strive to avoid patterned thinking and engage in brainstorming sessions with people of many disciplines when they face challenging problems. They often agree with artist Pablo Picasso: "Every act of creation is first an act of destruction."
Clarity - Nothing gets done well if people aren't clear about the direction they are moving. Effective leaders work with fervor to insure their messages are clear and the organization goals are explained to the "nth" degree. With that in mind, these leaders seek constant feedback on their own performance to insure they aren't inadvertently blocking people from being their best.
Excitement - Great leaders literally can't wait to get up in the morning and get going on their current projects. They bring an energy and enthusiasm to everyday activities. To that end, they work tirelessly on good health habits, frequent exercise and reasonable amounts of sleep.
The question is often asked if great leaders are born or made. The answer is likely a little of both. In our research, we lean more heavily toward the "made" answer. They become leaders by making the choice.