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Qualities of good leaders

Intro

“Leaders are like eagles. Eagles don't flock—you have to find them one at a time.” -H. Ross Perot
Instructors are not just teachers; they are also leaders. They must set an example for their students to follow and they must effectively lead their students along the path toward becoming the best martial artist they are able to become.

Instructors, who enjoy what they are doing and feel good about themselves, produce good students. Instructors, who do not enjoy their work or do not feel good about themselves, should attempt to change their behavior or go into another line of work.

An instructor is judged by the quality of his or her students, not the quantity of students. One is not a good instructor because of the number of students in the class, but because the students, regardless of number, are of high quality. Quality is observable and measurable. It is what is actually happening not what is desired to be happening. If the quality of an instructor's students is not as good as expected, then the instructor needs to reevaluate his or her teaching methods and leadership qualities. The following are some qualities seen in good leaders.

Good leaders set goals

“It is only when we develop others that we permanently succeed.” -Harvey S. Firestone
Leaders set goals, both for themselves and for their students. You train a dog to jump over a rope by putting the rope on the ground. Every time the dog jumps over the rope, he gets a treat. You keep raising the rope and giving the dog a treat when he jumps over the rope until the rope is held just under the limit of the dog's jumping ability. Leaders should take a minute to look at the goals of their students and then look at their performance to see if their behavior matches their goals. To help students to reach a high goal, keep setting easy to reach goals for them and gradually raise the level of the goals. However, do not set goals that are past their ability, it will only break their spirit. Goal setting is not a complicated process.

To set a goal and pursue it:
  • Decide on a goal.
  • Determine what behavior others have used to reach the same goal.
  • Think about the goal every day.
  • Every day, take a minute to look at your behavior and see whether your behavior matches your goal or not.
Instructors may use this process to set goals for themselves or to help students set goals for themselves. After helping students establish their own goals, instructors should help them achieve the goals.

To help students reach their goals, instructors should always look for something students do right, and then compliment them on it. Correct improper technique/behavior and praise good technique/behavior. Give praise when due, but do not give undeserved praise. If praise if given indiscriminately, students may develop a false sense of their abilities. This may be deadly to them, or others, in a self-defense situation.

Good leaders develop leaders, not followers

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all of the credit for doing it.” -Andrew Carnegie.
Many martial art organizations have collapsed after the founder's death due to the founder's lack of concern in, fear of, or lack of skills in developing leaders within the organization. Most senior black belts develop many followers, but few take the time and energy required to develop leaders. Some reasons for this are:

Leaders are more difficult to develop than followers.
  • Leaders are inquisitive by nature and this is often viewed as disrespectful or threatening, therefore, it much less threatening to only develop followers.
  • Leaders want to lead, and if not allowed to lead, they may eventually break away and form their own organizations.
  • Leaders are harder to find and to attract
Some senior black belts want all the credit for everything that is done; therefore, they will never develop leaders for fear of the competition. Those who develop:
FOLLOWERS: need to be needed
LEADERS: want to be succeeded.

FOLLOWERS: focus on the weaknesses of their students.
LEADERS: focus on the strengths of their students.

FOLLOWERS: treat all their students the same.
LEADERS: treat potential leaders as leaders.

FOLLOWERS: hoard power.
LEADERS: give away power.

FOLLOWERS: spend time with followers.
LEADERS: invest time with leaders.

FOLLOWERS: grow by additional amounts.
LEADERS: grow by multiple amounts.

FOLLOWERS: only impact people they meet.
LEADERS: impact people they have never met.

Good leaders develop loyalty

“The most effective leadership is by example, not edict.” -John C. Maxwell
“Am I building people, or building my dream and using people to do it.” -John C. Maxwell
To develop a successful school, an owner must develop loyalty to him or herself and to the school. If students do not respect the instructor, then true loyalty can never exist. Loyalty develops over time out of respect for the instructor; therefore, it is impossible for students to express loyalty if they do not respect the instructor. Initially, students may admire or even fear the instructor, but eventually, this must be replaced by respect. Respect must be earned, and, anything that may be earned may be lost.

To develop respect and consequently the loyalty of students, owners must:
  • Show genuine concern for the welfare and safety of students.
  • Show respect for students as people, not just as paying customers.
  • Make students think he or she has something worthwhile to offer them.
  • Ensure students think they are making progress and that the instructor also thinks they are making progress.

Good leaders seek advice

“Smart leaders believe only half of what they hear. Discerning leaders know which half to believe.” -John C. Maxwell
“It is wonderful when the people believe in their leader, but it is more wonderful when the leader believes in the people.” -John. C. Maxwell
Many senior instructors make decisions based on hidden agendas. They seldom, if ever, request the expertise, experience, and knowledge of their senior students for fear it will constitute a weakness. If this type of instructor does request advice, it is often for some alternative reason, such as:

  • To allow an instructor to proclaim that he or she asked for the advice, even though he or she never intended to heed or to make use of the advice.
  • To establish the false assumption that the instructor did not make the decision alone.
  • To establish a scapegoat, someone else to blame when an idea fails. Sometimes, this type of instructor will state that he or her was given bad advice by someone, but being a moral person, he or she will not name this person. Sometimes no such person ever existed.

Good leaders have character

 “Your actions speak so loud, that I can't hear a word you are saying!” -Author Unknown
“Talent is a gift, but character is a choice.” -John C. Maxwell
“Leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character.” -John C. Maxwell
If an instructor's actions seem out of place, then look to his or her character to find out why. A person's actions are a true indicator of his or her character. Your character determines who you are and thus what you do.

Good leaders try to achieve PAR

For any problem that may arise, leaders try to achieve PAR:
Problem: Identify the problem
Action: Act to solve the problem
Reaction: Do not stop until the problem is solved.

Good leaders don't over lead

When you over lead, you develop a herd of students that just hang around waiting to be led. They are so used to be told what to do, that they don’t know when or if they are allowed to do anything without being told. If students are not allowed to act on their own sometimes, they will never become leaders themselves.

SOURCES
  • LeBoeuf, M. (1985). The Greatest Management Principle in the World. G. P. Putnam and Sons.

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