Drew Jeter knows how important leadership is in life. As a former Air Force officer and current program manager operations director of CH2M HILL, he has experienced first-hand how a great leader can inspire others to become better, be it on the battlefield, at work or at home.
“A great leader is a student of people and is committed to bettering the people around them,” says Drew Jeter. “A great leader is not chosen; they are leaders because they create confidence and respect from their actions.”
What it takes to become a great leader is an understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses - both their own and those of the people in their charge. Great leaders know how to motivate others to achieve the goals they set out to accomplish.
A great leader quickly establishes the priorities for the task and assigns people they feel are capable of completing the assignment. They do this by understanding what the job entails and breaking it down into tasks that are within the ability of their people to complete.
Leadership is about giving others the opportunity to prove their capabilities. Nicole Fallon, a staff writer with Business News Daily, says leaders don’t have to work harder than others, they have to work smarter.
“Smart leadership is about making the most of your work hours by learning to delegate, prioritize and simplify.”
Humility the Key
When one thinks of a great leader, humility is not a trait that readily springs to mind. Leaders are thought to be decisive and forceful in getting their views heard. But according to Donovan Campbell, author of The Leader's Code: Mission, Character, Service, and Getting the Job Done, great leaders demonstrate humility in dealing with others.
“In addition to accelerating the learning process, humility allows the best ideas to bubble up to the surface,” says Donovan Campbell. “If a team feels its leader will take input from everywhere, even if that input directly contradicts the leader's own assessments, then a team will be much more likely to float its ideas in hopes of having them enacted.”
A great leader inspires trust in the people around them. The leader gets this trust by clearly communicating the objectives of the organization and holding themselves and others accountable to the overall success.
“Making sure you have your priorities straight and determining what’s most important to your team enables you to be a great leader,” says Drew Jeter. “This creates confidence in the people around you and they see that you believe they are an integral part of the overall strategy.”
Lead or Manage
A leader can get bogged down when they start to see themselves as managers rather than leaders. Dr. John Alizor, author of Leadership: Understanding Theory, Style and Practice says leaders often get caught in the management trap.
“The job of a leader is exactly that: to lead, says Dr. Alizor. “As a leader, your primary responsibility is to guide and supervise your employees as they get their work done, not to do everything yourself.”
The art of delegation is one of the most important aspects of being a great leader. By delegating tasks to the team a leader can focus their energy on responsibilities they are best suited to accomplish. The difficult part is determining what to delegate and what to do yourself.
Having the power to delegate, and effectively delegating those responsibilities, is a key component in effective leadership. The most critical role of a leader is to facilitate the performance of the team as a whole. A leader does the tasks they are responsible for and delegates the others with supportive follow-up.
Great leaders never stop learning, whether it is through formal education, seminars or by hands on experience. Leaders learn by listening to the opinions of their team and other experts in the field and applying what they have learned to their daily practice.
“Leadership requires a lifelong commitment to learning both the technical requirements of the job as well as how to motivate the people you lead through self-development and awareness, and most importantly learning what really makes your folks tick,” says Drew Jeter.
Becoming a great leader is about putting the needs of the team ahead of personal goals or ambitions. The leader is someone who has a vision of where to go and inspires others to be a part of the success. Drew Jeter believes that great leaders not only know themselves, they seek to help their team to know themselves in order to fulfill their potential.