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9 Keys to Strong Leadership | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

9 Keys to Strong Leadership

Keys to Leadership

You’re not leadership material. You’ve got the brains but lack the personality. But you can help leaders with your ideas,” I was told decades ago by a family member. As a brownie dropout who wasn’t involved in clubs or organizations, I believed it.

When I did get involved, that advice stayed with me, so for years I happily helped as secretary for organizations.

Six years ago, I was thrown into a leadership position. My kids were in the Evansville Children’s Choir, and their parents’ group needed a president. I had some ideas of where I would like to take the group. So I was elected president and was so scared I nearly peed my pants on the way home after that first meeting.  I was their president two years.

Then I became president of  Vanderburgh County’s 4-H Leaders and just finished two years as their president.

Along the way, I discovered that I could lead and organize. Maybe I didn’t have the experience of prior leaders, but with the mastery of certain keys, I could manage the job.

What makes a successful leader?

  1. Setting. Find the right venues, and be prepared to work a lot with setting up and tearing down tables and chairs.
  2. Dependability. Show up for the job – not just the big splashy ones but the ones that require work, generate sweat, and involve dirt. When you’re willing to tackle the dirty jobs, so are others.
  3. Communication. Use multiple channels of communication – printed agendas, email, social media, and telephone. You get the best results if you reach people where they are at. If you are recruiting volunteers, use mail merge for personal emails to get the best results.
  4. Inspiration. When you give people a cause to believe in, a song to sing, and a joke to laugh at, they will do great things. At every meeting and in every email, include at least one line of the big picture to remind everyone why we work together.
  5. Careful Stewardship. Count every dollar and make every dollar count. Spend money on yourself and your comforts last. Focus dollars first towards accomplishing your mission. When others see you have integrity, they will contribute more of their time, talents, and treasure.
  6. Organization. Maintain calendars so people know when activities are happening. Bylaws and organizational structures help an organization extend beyond personality-driven leadership.
  7. Delegation. Always train your replacements and help others develop the skills to continue after you. Watch like a lifeguard in a pool at events and spot those who seem to be flailing – help them find their niche and contribute their skills.
  8. Humility. Be willing to admit your faults and apologize when you’re wrong.
  9. Fortitude. If you’re the president, that means the buck stops with you. You sometimes have to make the tough calls and have the rough conversations. You’re the one who sometimes has to say no. You set the tone and the boundaries.

What do you think are the most important traits for a leader? Share them in the comments.


One Response to “9 Keys to Strong Leadership”

  1. Dana February 28, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    Well said. Leadership is hard work. I’ve seen you in that role and thought you were born for it. But just like anything in life, leaders can be made. I especially love the advise to admit when your wrong. So many other leaders I see feel the need to always blame others.

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