Look for the positive. I have never seen any good come from saying anything negative. When you do say something negative, it seems to have a very long lifetime. Leaders must set the tone and the expectation of positiveness.
You can demonstrate a positive attitude by taking pleasure in the everyday simple accomplishments and pleasures. This means showing appreciation for the common accomplishments and considerations given, as well as the things that make our life so bountiful, but which we don't often take the time to recognize. Attitudes are contagious, so set a good standard.- Never be transparent as a leader. There are times when we have to carry out tasks that we would rather not do. It never helps morale in our image as a leader to pass along orders with the admittance we don't agree with the order or we are incapable of influencing the order. It makes us look weak and ineffective. Plus, it undermines the policy being invoked.
- Seek ideas from group participation, especially if you want the group to support the directions that ensue. Each idea has an intrinsic value. Ideas also have a transitive value to spur other suggestions. Thus, every suggestion has merit. No one has to worry about having to suggest the "perfect solution."
- Be a cheerleader for your people. See the best in them and let others know of their accomplishments. There are very few of us who need criticism for our growth. It befits us to mete out criticism very sparingly and with great consideration, while showing caring and concern for the person we are admonishing. People are more apt to contribute their ideas and suggestions if they feel the atmosphere is receptive and not critical. This establishes a risk-free environment.
- Be a facilitator to help your people get their jobs done. There is a great need to facilitate communication across groups. Assuring good communication is the key.
- Keep a record of suggestions from others. This assures that ideas are properly understood and that no ideas are lost. This practice also reinforces that all contributions are recognized. - Sam Keene, Brea, Calif.
What we did:
In order to develop positive leadership qualities, it may be helpful to engage in the following:
- Recognize natural leadership abilities and focus on demonstrating these "born" attributes in leadership roles.
- Strive to redefine weaknesses as opportunities for improvement. Applying self-observation, prayer and regular scripture study may render additional insight needed to progress. (See Ether 12:27.)
- Concentrate on showing genuine concern and interest for others. As simple as this may sound, being aware of others' needs may reduce personal accusations and increase trust and cohesiveness.
- Maintain a well-developed set of individual standards. To be a consistent leader, using these standards as a reference point may aid leadership decisions.
Above all, Christ's example as the epitome of positive qualities will always guide leaders to improve their qualities. - Krista Schmutz, Bountiful, Utah
When I was called to be Primary president, being a convert, I had never been a teacher or even attended Primary. Furthermore, the stake leaders who were supposed to orient me lived 50 miles over dangerous Colorado mountain passes, and I was called in January when the snow was at its worst. To make matters even worse, the former Primary president had moved out of town two months earlier.
I turned to my handbook and began to study. I studied my scriptures and prayed desperately. I feel these experiences were better for me than if I had been oriented. I learned to rely on the Spirit instead of any people to help me through the questions I had. I have since been called to many other leadership positions. If I follow my own advice things work out. If I rely on the arm of flesh things don't work out. - Anita Hahn, Delta, Utah
Jesus Christ Himself is the perfect example of a leader, and He spoke often to His apostles about the positive leadership qualities that they would need to carry on the Church after His crucifixion and resurrection. I learned from the example and words of Christ that we are all leaders whether called to a formal position or not if we serve others around us and work to develop and share all the talents that the Lord has blessed us with. - Rebecca Shelley, Sandy, Utah
Learn to delegate
Through my experiences as a mother, wife, auxiliary president, counselor and community Scouting leader, I have learned a leadership calling will give me ample opportunity to strengthen weaknesses and bless the lives of others. I have found through experience the following suggestions helpful to me:
- Learn what is expected of your calling by studying your handbook and appropriate materials. Counsel with your immediate priesthood and auxiliary leaders to find out what is expected of you personally.
- Do not shirk the opportunity in council/presidency meetings to share your counsel. As a counselor or assistant, be willing to accept the decisions of the president. As a president, be willing to consider and value the counsel of your counselors. Their insights will help broaden your scope of understanding.
- Do not criticize your leaders or members. Learn, however, to offer constructive and positive suggestions when appropriate to those you lead.
- Delegate to others, even when you are sure you can do it better. A good leader will not deny others the opportunity to serve in the Church with whatever talents they have.
- Always seek the Lord's guidance in your calling through prayer and study. - Norma King, Liberty, Mo.
Set an example
Several things help to develop positive leadership qualities. First, be the kind of leader you would enjoy working under. Set an example by doing all the job requires. Don't just stand back and watch. Open and close Church planning/training/organizational meetings with prayer and always have a prayer in your heart concerning your stewardship.
Second, be organized and prepared. Hold planning meetings regularly and confined to a definite time frame. Have a concise agenda for each meeting. As the council goes through the agenda items, be careful to keep the discussion on track. Each person should feel free to make comments and know that their ideas will be considered.
Third, when accepting a calling in the Church there are generally several meetings to attend other than just the one the calling is for. A commitment should be made to faithfully attend such meetings as stake leadership, auxiliary training, ward councils and even in-service meetings when required. All of these will help leaders be better prepared and be as effective as possible in their own callings, as well as set a positive example for those who serve under them. - Irene Jeppsen, Afton, Wyo.
How to checklist:
1 Seek guidance of Spirit; study scriptures, pray.
2 Be humble, willing to consider others' counsel; listen.
3 Set positive example; do your part, attend all meetings.
4 Give others opportunities for responsibility; delegate.
WRITE TO US:
Aug. 1 "How to make transition from being newly married to becoming new parents."
Aug. 8 "How to help your wife feel more appreciated as a homemaker."
Aug. 15 "How to help your husband feel more appreciated as a provider."
Aug. 22 "How to protect your testimony."
Aug. 29 "How to plan ahead for the different stages of life."
Sept. 5 "How to cope with the sudden loss of employment."
- Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to avoid greed," "How to overcome compulsive eating," "How to help heal a family after a loved one has caused deep hurt," "How to avoid the gambling trap."
Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.