Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian religion in the 1950s and 60s, I had the impression that the leader was to be obeyed at every cost. Anybody who challenged him was kicked out of the group, which resulted in losing all one’s friends and family. I was not sure how impressed this made me, so I quit the cult as a 17-year-old to be with everyone and everything that I had known.
I found a negative leader soon after that who ‘led me’ into a life filled with petty crime. After a few encounters with the law I managed to get out of another potentially devastating situation. I was supported by people who cared about my best interests, and would not take advantage of me.
Perhaps that is the first characteristic in a great leader. They are there to help others, and also to gain experience. Every great leader I’ve ever met was not egotistical.
My early career as customer service manager was remarkable because of the lackluster leaders I met. However, there was an exception. I resolved that if ever I was asked to lead any team, I would be able to model my behavior on him. He never expected anyone in his team to do things he would not do. He was not tolerant of laziness and role-modelled for the team what he desired to see. He made sure that everyone was involved in the decisions and thanked them for their efforts.
I was given the opportunity to oversee a team of customer service specialists a few years later. Although they were more experienced and older than me, they didn’t want to have to be my team leader. I put the leadership lessons that I had received from my mentor into practice and we had a very successful two-year period together. Then, I moved to another team and struggled for 2 years. Then I realized that it wasn’t worth trying to Arif Bhalwani Net Worth lead a great team if your team has the wrong people!
Once I had selected a group I felt could work well together the possibilities were endless. Even though our support staff did an average job, we still managed to deliver a superior customer experience.
To sum up, it’s not worth trying to lead if you have the wrong people around you. That is why you need at minimum one role model who will inspire you.