Three leadership lessons

Yesterday (May 25th) was elections day at the All Nations Toastmasters Club and I am excited to have been unanimously chosen to continue serving as club president for six months, starting July 2013. Over the last 5 months, January to May 2013, here are a few of the leadership lessons I have learned by serving the club:

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The only real training for leadership is leadership. Anthony Jay

  • All are leaders who accept to rise to the call of leadership. In the age old debate about whether leaders are born or made, I side with the argument that leaders are made. Leadership is a learnable skill, just like almost every other human ability. I have seen and continue to see specific leadership attributes in every single club member. I rejoice when there is an opportunity at the club level for anyone else to rise up and own projects, lead initiatives. That is when leaders emerge.
  • There is no substitute for enthusiasm. As a leader, all eyes watching you will expect you to be upbeat and passionate about the cause you are leading for. I have always made it a point to be happy and display gusto and zeal at every club meeting. If you are to effectively lead, be an enthusiastic and energetic leader. Even if you are an introvert, you must learn how to openly express your enthusiasm. If you do not appear enthusiastic to the people you serve as a leader, it is likely they will not be motivated and happy to contribute to making the organization work.
  • Be willing to experiment and apologize in public when necessary. You will not always make the right decisions, but you have to make decisions, including the wrong ones. Being willing to experiment is critical for a leader. More than I care to admit my decisions did not turn out to yield the most desirable results, but I considered them experiments and learned from them. If appropriate, and many times it will be appropriate, publicly apologize for people you might have offended in public.

There you have it. Every single one of the points above can be elaborated on for a few hundred words. There is so much more that I have learned and I am still learning. My friend Burak from California University of Management and Sciences said to me during a conversation: “You learn by living.” That is so very true and it applies to every aspect of our lives. You learn leadership by leading, and I am extremely grateful to be in this position where I can learn leadership by leading. What are some of the lessons from your leadership experiences?