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What Is Leadership?

Joey Cantrell | Machine Shop/Roll Shop- Manager, Constellium Muscle Shoals

What Is Leadership?

Merriam-Webster’s definition of leadership is “The power or ability to lead other people,” but to lead them where? Hopefully, not down the path of failure! One of the first things I learned in my career was to never forget where I came from. A lot of people whom I have come into contact with in my career and have assumed positions of leadership have forgotten where they came from. Leadership is not about being the boss or captain; it is about how you lead the team you have been blessed with.

A wise man once told me, “If you want people to follow you, then teach them something to make them better.”

Why do certain people stand out from others? Why are many willing to accept their direction and thoughts and follow them even through the greatest discomfort? There is no doubt that the possession of this quality, when added to the other essentials of a good leader, gives an additional power that is not measurable.

Leaders must lead. They must be ahead of their team. They must sense the team’s interests and desires before them, yet they must not be too far ahead – a leader who is out of sight of the team will no longer lead the team. However far a leader is able to see the bigger picture, they must always move only a short distance ahead of the team. A leader must have initiative to dare to start things. A leader must be out front to first think the thoughts of the whole group and help guide the team to reach their full potential.

A leader must have courage! There is no record of any great leader who lacked courage. A leader must be willing to risk the results of their own conclusions, a leader must not shirk responsibility or blame others, and a leader must have the courage to stay ahead and continue to learn, teach, and mentor. A leader must be the first to walk the path they have marked out or they will not inspire confidence in the safety of the path among the team.

A leader must have enthusiasm and must be enthusiastic about the team’s success. A wise leader studies standards, data, business habits, and traditions. They examine them without prejudice either for or against and compare them with all other possible ways to address the issue.

A good leader neither dodges nor attempts to hog responsibility. A leader must be always willing to help others to assume responsibility and to receive full credit for things in their field. The growth of the team is essential – a leader must be able to detect leadership in the team and to help the team grow to reach their full potential.

In conclusion, leadership is not about the leader; it is about the team. A leader will only be as good as the team they have surrounded themselves with, but the team will only be as good as the leadership they receive from the leader. Always be willing to step outside the box, and always set your standards higher than your team’s. Keep pushing yourself and set your team’s standard high to help them grow.

My experience as a leader has been to help my team step out of their box and to encourage and empower them to make the right decisions. There is no greater accomplishment as a leader than to see the light come on, or the smile when an individual on your team steps out of their box and sees the full benefits of their decision or idea and how it makes them and the company better. As a leader, I am also striving to create the right culture for my team, making sure the team knows how they are performing, good or bad. It goes both ways – as a leader I also have to be open to my teams input on my leadership, and this is a win for both me and my team.

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About the Author

Joey Cantrell Machine Shop/Roll Shop- Manager, Constellium Muscle Shoals

Joey Cantrell has over 34 years extensive field experience within the Mechanical and Industrial sector due to my continued desire for personal and professional growth. Joey’s extensive experience with maintenance repair, plant management, business development and employee management will allow me to share ideas for technology advancements as well as increase production, and increase profits.