By Justin Gates
“To lead people, walk beside them. People do not notice the existence of the best leaders. The next best are honored and praised. The next, are feared. And the worst are hated. When the best leader’s work is done, people think they’ve done it themselves.” – Lao Tzu
A Knight teaches others the skills needed to navigate the tough situations they will find themselves in. The goal for a Knight is to bring others to a point where the Knight is no longer needed, and a new Knight in that other person is born. A Knight knows and understands that not every situation needs a sword, sometimes bold action and a stance of defense are all that is needed. Their strongest weapon is not a sword, but it is the drive for wisdom, the wish for Peace, Compassion, and Love for others, showing mercy in all situations, and understanding that there is more to all things than what one can see.
What I just said there, could be used to promote protecting others as well. But I think leadership is very important when walking this path, and many times when we step in, we are leading those who need our help. And how we lead others will determine a great deal, when predicting an outcome. The best kind of leadership is had through cooperation and empowerment. When we understand that we are simply part of a solution and not THE solution, we can then minimize becoming part of the problem!
By leading this way, we are also teaching and empowering those around us in a way that they will be more capable, willing, and able to solve problems in the future. We empower others sometimes through example. Sometimes, it is teaching someone a new skill. Other times, it is through making them invested and part of the solution. For most of my adult life, I have been leading others. Whether that was leading a family to leading a team as my career or taking lead during a crisis or issue that I was called to or happened upon, I have always led through cooperation and empowerment and it has worked very well. Let us go over some things that I have learned over the years that I will share with you that has worked for me;
- ALWAYS be honest with your feedback of others, both good and bad. People can see through you if you are being dishonest towards them. Especially when you are offering praise and/or criticism. I learned from a great mentor years ago, that if you can’t find an equal amount of good in a person as bad, then you are not honestly looking hard enough at them. Don’t forget to ask for feedback too!
- Close mouth and open ears. It is important to genuinely listen to people when they are giving you feedback, suggestions, or offering a different perspective. The Leader is just another role within the dynamic of a team. You don’t have to BE the solution, only share responsibility for the solution.
- Mentor those who are ready. I have always made it a point to share everything I know with those who are in a position that was under my own. I would mentor them and teach them everything they would need to know in the event that they would have to step up and take on my role and any given time. I have know leaders in the past that would horde such knowledge, in fear that someone was trying to take over or take their job. This is nonsense. We lead through empowerment, by teaching others what they need to assume a leadership role, we are making that person stronger and capable!
- Learn compromise and diplomacy. This kind of goes back to closing our mouths and opening our ears. A good leader does not have to always have it be their way. There is room for other perspectives on a given issue and that perspective just may be the missing piece. There are parameters that we have to work within sometimes, but when those are not strict, empower others to complete things their own way.
- Empathy is important! Empathy is Important! Empathy is important! Understand who you are working with. Understand what they are going through. Understand how you can best serve them.
- A good leader understands that they are a servant to the greater good of the whole. A leader serves the needs of their teammates and does everything they can to remove any obstacles that may be in their paths. Understanding that a leader, if not careful, can themselves become an obstacle to the success of their team, by forgetting that they are servants to the cause.
- Share in the spoils. In nearly every venue in life, it is the leader that gets the accolades upon success in a given area. It is important that we value the good deeds and hard work that everyone as individuals has given to the success of the team. Learn to be Humble on all occasions, always valuing first the contributions and sacrifices of others before your own. Others may tell of our accomplishments, accepting a gift or praise is just as important as giving, but in truth; a Knight cares not for these things, only their service to others and the common good of all is what matters.
Encouragement is a better tool to help others realize their potential than criticism. But if criticism is a must, then it must be balanced equally with encouragement and praise.
Like King Arthur in the movie “First Knight”, have a round table at your council. “in serving each other, we become free” is what was inscribed on the table. Never place more value on the contributions of yourself or others when working together.
For the sake of time, I will stop there. These are not the end-all, be-all, ways to be a better leader, only some of the more important ones for me that I have learned and practiced over the many years of being a leader in various roles.
Axiom of Light
Do not use your knowledge and ability to lord over others; this will only inspire contempt and resentment.
Empower others. Guide them to the best parts of themselves. You have done your job when people no longer need you for guidance.
Awaken the Knight Within!