The first distinguishing characteristic of positive leaders – the first attribute – is a strong and positive self-concept. Positive leaders have a clear sense of who they are and where they are going. They have confidence in themselves and in their talents and abilities. They believe in themselves; they believe themselves to be somehow special. It is this core belief – this strong sense of self – from which the power of positive leadership emanates.
Leadership, as we have already discovered, implies taking risks, forging new concepts, charting new courses, breaking new trails. Leadership means going first – often where no man or woman has gone before. This takes great courage, confidence, and character and these traits, so common to the great leaders of history, are nothing more than manifestations of a strong self-esteem.
Leaders must be outwardly directed. They are concerned about the world and about other people. It is not that their own needs are left unattended – quite the contrary, positive leaders are secure in themselves. They know in the deepest part of their souls that they are okay – that nothing that can happen in the external world can diminish their worth as a living, breathing human being; as a child of Creation. From this foundation of a secure ego they are able to give freely of themselves. They have, in fact, discovered one of the greatest secrets of life: that the best way to serve one’s self, to feed a healthy ego, is to serve others. The more we give the greater the gifts we receive.
For men and women with an underdeveloped ego who find themselves in a leadership role, this is an alien concept. They have not reached the crest of the mountain from which they can see the panorama. They spend the greater part of their time and energy advancing their individual interests rather than attending to the needs of their organization and its people. As a result, as leaders they are ineffectual. Just as importantly, this self-serving behavior is apparent to the people with whom these individuals work and interact.
There are very few individuals for whom a healthy self-concept comes easily and most of us must work relentlessly at maintaining our self-esteem. Much like we must do with purpose, we must periodically step back and assess the health of our self-esteem. Unless we have perfected the process of retaining a healthy ego, the natural ebbs and flows of life can lead to disequilibrium. We are often unaware that our focus has shifted from the external world to the internal.
Effective positive leaders work relentlessly to maintain a healthy self-esteem much in the way individuals exercise their bodies to maintain physical health and well-being. Exposing ourselves to positive and inspirational thoughts and ideas is an important component of this ego-development process. It is also important to take time for introspection. Examine your strengths and weakness as objectively as you are able and then develop action plans to work on your imperfections. It is also suggested that you ask your closest friends or significant others to help you with this process as we are not always able to view ourselves the way others perceive us.
Remember always that we will never be perfect. Humans are, by definition, imperfect beings and there are no exceptions. It is not necessary that we are always right, what is important is that we strive to do what is right. Look around you at positive leaders. Often they are the strong, silent types who are so confident in themselves that it becomes unnecessary to boast of their prowess or accomplishments. The deeds of these men and women speak far more eloquently than anything they might say. You can possess this same confidence, this same sense of self if only you will reach out for it.