Friday, November 4, 2011

Being a Leader

By Shekina DeTienne, green belt

When I was looking for a martial arts school, I looked at many different styles and qualities but one thing that impressed me most was the leadership at CTI.  All the students were polite and respectful to the other students no matter their belt.  Within the first month, it was evident that the CTI Black Belts not only teach Moo Sul Kwan Martial Arts, but also the qualities of a good leader.  Respect, patience, self control, strength of body, mind and spirit are just a few qualities taught on a daily basis.  Anything can be taught and recited  but if not practiced regularly it loses its meaning. As students who are learning the attributes of leadership, we need to be exercising them constantly.

All students, no matter their age, can be a leader to their family, friends, and community.  We can show obedience and respect towards our parents for our siblings to see and follow.  To use patience, understanding, and humility when with friends, either at school, work or play gives them a friend they can depend on and look up to.  Whether around the neighborhood or at the store we show leadership bybeing clam, level headed and willing to help.  Helping mom with the dishes, walking with a friend, or bringing a lost dog home are small simple ways to be an example of leadership.  By living life with the qualities of leadership we earn respect and loyalty from those around us.

There are dozens of qualities that every good leader must posses but depending on the responsibilities and situations some of these qualities are more important than others.  While I was training to be a shift manager, one of my biggest role models and trainer said 'every good leader can also serve.  A servant leader.'  At the time I nodded my head and smiled and carried on with my training but that phrase and many others she gave me have stuck with me to become some of my founding motto's.  To have respect, a willingness to give, to be a servant leader, to use their team wisely, and to be open minded are some of the top qualities that I have found most necessary in leadership.

A leader who lacks self respect and so acts recklessly and without regard to safety is not likely to keep the respect and loyalty of their team.  By respecting themselves and those around them, the leader will be better at their job and will have a loyal team.  In my opinion, nothing is more effective than a loyal team that respects their leader and is therefore willing to do anything and give all.

The leader who understands that their team would do anything to accomplish their goal also understands that the leader themselves needs to do the same.  A good team is not a dictatorship but a partnership and all parts need to be equally committed.  If the leader backs out of this partnership they will lose the respect and the loyalty of their team and will be replaced.

Being a leader and having a team under you can sometimes be more like a game of follow the leader.  A good leader can serve and take orders and suggestions from their superiors or the team under them.  A smart leader realizes that they don't know everything and that by taking advice, using different points of view and analyzing the situation they are serving and leading their team better.

From the moment they meet each person of their team, a leader is assessing, understanding, and using their team.  Knowing their history, talents, flaws and passions allow a leader to best plan and execute any endeavor that comes their way. This also teaches the team how to better rely on and use each other.

A leader who is able to be open minded and willing to consider all options and opinions will be able to better earn the respect of their team. They can also accept changes when necessary but also firmly stands by their beliefs. Such a leader can explain and defend themselves with a level head and will be able to better handle the little surprises life hands us.

I believe the phrase 'too many chiefs and not enough Indians' is irrelevant and inaccurate. The best leaders understand when to step up, when to step down, and when to lead by example.  At school, I can be a leader by talking to new people and making them feel welcome.  I also do what my instructors ask, get my homework done on time, and am available to help and teach students when needed.  At work, I come in early and am willing to leave late to prove to my employers that I am happy to be there.

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