We wrote about who a Leader IS, so let's follow it up with what a leader does. Here are three "must do's" for leaders.
1. You must take care of yourself each day mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Being a leader is difficult. It can burn you out. If you are to prevent burn out you MUST take care of yourself FIRST. This is often counter-intuitive in the beginning for people who value leadership.
It is sexier and easier to give all of yourself away to the cause/people that/who you are leading. This is a sure way to lose "the bones and nuances" of yourself. When that happens what you are leading will soon fizzle out.
Here's the simple truth: if you break down, you put them at risk. In view of this principle: it is extremely imprudent, lazy, and selfish of you NOT to take care of yourself.
Maybe you don't have a lot of "time", but nobody said it had to be much!
Quick bites of an inspiring podcast episode, a quiet 7 minute hot bath to end the day, a quick ten minute yoga routine, walk, or bodyweight workout, a few pages of a book, a meditation, affirmation or prayer, an art project you work on little by little, a few lines in a journal... SOMETHING for you and you alone.
The point is to do a little bit for you and you alone each day. The more you understand and practice this, the more time you will find for the activity... and everyone will be better around you for it.
There is not much worse for good people who care about you than following a burned out leader!
A great leader listens way more than he or she speaks. Here is an excellent book on listening.
In this way, the leader's words are not wasted, communication is concise and clear, problems are recognized early, anxiety lessens, ill-conceived judgment turns to resource-based empathy, and the leader understands not only how to make their people feel desired, but understands where each person is most happy and useful to the goal, team, organization, etc.
How do you fare when it comes to listening? Practice!
3. Be stoic in your principles and adaptable in your mission.
Do not get "stuck" for long! The mission MUST move!
When you know who you are and why your team/organization/goal exists, you can survive any battle and thrive more often than you struggle!
Culture is king! Your principles and resilience are the keys to the kingdom!
If you understand the character of yourself and the principles of your project, not only can your mission survive any direct hit but your people will ultimately remain inspired, empowered and passionate in both setbacks and success!
This takes time, understanding and constant attention by the leader; expect the people you are leading to not care as much about the "cause" as you do. Be okay with this. Repeat yourself clearly, often, and without despair.
What are your principles? If you know them, and will not waver in them, you can always find the way through. Adaptation is much simpler and clearer with strong principles. That is leadership!
Work and practice at these three things. Play and experiment with them. Every single day.