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Gary May

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We were young once and we were fearless! Then we got some schooling and some more, then we got trained, then we were led, then we completely forgot how in the heck to be fearless! Add today's worthless media, sprinkle in some naysayers, a fair dose of skepticism and you've got a full-blown problem.

How to fix it? Leadership, which is defined as the activity of leading; with the leader being "a person who rules or guides or inspires others". Let's throw out the 'rules' definition for our purposes here (there are too many examples of lacking leadership to touch that one).

So, not everyone is going to be or desires to be a leader. That is why 95% of the American public controls 5% of the wealth. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with being a follower. To be an effective leader, however, it takes more effort in a number of areas. First, you have to know where you are going (aka start with the end in mind). Second, you have to completely believe in what you are doing. Third, you must understand the task at hand. Fourth, you must be accomplished enough to know the fundamentals (26 plus times to make something a habit). Also, you can't be swayed by followers...ever!

We use the expressions "industry leader", "thought leader", "technology leader" and others like those too loosely many times. Leaders consistently and methodically do what needs to be done, many times without fanfare or credit. Leaders in the retail space are commonly not the loudest person of the staff (whether automotive, real estate or other markets). And remember: leaders are made, not born!

Today's market conditions and challenges are ripe with opportunity. It takes leaders to push through, know the target, set the course and get the whole team to go with them. Together Everyone Achieves More is not simply a saying. It's a mindset. It's a belief. It's a mantra. It's a reality. If you think for a moment that you can be a leader by yourself, you still have a lot to learn.

Don't worry though, because the true leaders haven't stopped learning as well. You'll see them reading, listening, attending, challenging, paying attention and many more activities around going forward. Will you make mistakes and missteps? Absolutely! If you're afraid of failure, learn to follow. If you're not afraid to fail, learn to lead and it will become natural.

Are you where you want to be right now? today? last week? If not, start leading. The old adage of "lead, follow or get out of the way" has two truths, not three. If you're in business and you get out of the way, you will die. Our 'next' economy has no space for that. Follow if you may, but there's too many risks associated with that.

It is my hope that you will learn to lead, desire to succeed through failure and compel yourself enough to change. Find leaders around you and tag along (if they're truly a leader, they'll absolutely want you around). It will be interesting to see which retailers reach out for help this month instead of following one more day or finding out that waiting is the last nail in their coffin...

Best Practices: Professional Insight, Power Results

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