How to be a leader
Being considered a leader in our society is the ultimate compliment. “Leadership has become the universal vitamin C pill,” says psychologist David Campbell of the Center for Creative Leadership in Colorado Springs, Colo. “People seem to want megadoses.”
 No wonder. Leadership bestows power, commands respect and, most important, fosters achievement. Unlike vitamins, though, leadership skills can’t be easily gulped own. They must be carefully cultivated .
 Contrary to popular belief, most good leaders are made, not born. They hone their skills in their everyday lives. But which do they cultivate? How do they (and how can you) get others to follow?
 Always give credit. Many leaders note that the most efficient way to get a good performance from others is to treat them like heroes. Giving public credit to someone who has earned it is the best leadership technique in the world. It is also an act of generosity that’s never forgotten.
 Giving credit is more effective than even the most constructive criticism, which often hurts rather than helps. Kenneth Blanchard, co-author of The One-Minute Manager, agrees. “Catch people doing something right!” he says. Then tell everyone about it. The loyalty you will generate is arguably the most important currency a leader has.
 Take informed risks. “The best leaders know that taking a risk is not a thoughtless exercise,” says management consultant Marilyn Machlowitz. “Sky divers don’t go up in an airplane without checking the parachutes beforehand.”
 Because the idea of risk also carries with it the possibility of failure, many of us tend to wait for others to take charge. But if you want to be a leader, you must learn to fail-and not die a thousand deaths. Pick yourself up and start all over again.
 Show the way. In 1965, Lee Ducat was a Philadelphia homemaker with a child who had just been found to have diabetes. Ducat tried to reach out to other mothers of diabetic kids, but at first no one wanted to talk.
 Finally Ducat managed to find three other mothers willing to share their experience, and from that beginning she went on to found and lead the Juvenile Diabetes foundation, which currently has 150 chapters worldwide. Ducat also formed and now heads the National disease Research Interchange, which procures human tissues for vital research. Lee Ducat’s secret? Being a role model.
 “Have you ever noticed that if you smile at people, they smile back?” she asks. “Well, if you’re giving, people want to give right back. If you’re sure-footed, they want to follow in your footsteps. If you’re confident about reaching a goal, others echo that confidence and try to achieve it for you.”
 “The best thing you can do is to get followers to mirror your actions by being what you wish them to be.”
 Keep the faith. Successful leaders often say that if you trust others to do well, they will. If, on the other hand, you believe your people will fail, they will probably meet your expectations as well. Businessman-philanthropist W. Clement Stone suggests that you express your faith in a letter. He says the executive who writes of faith in and commitment to his salespeople can motivate them to break records; the teacher who writes individual notes of encouragement to students can lead them to extraordinary heights. Having faith in someone gives him self-confidence and pleasure. It may sound corny, but the experts agree it works.
 Get a compass. People don’t follow leaders who lack direction. Estee Lauder, founder of the cosmetics company, has led thousands of employees to great success. She claims that every business leader she knows puts a clear picture of what he wants to achieve in his mind and stays focused on the picture. “People want to follow those who promise-and deliver-success,” she says.
 Act the part. Good leaders have learned to sound and look like winners. They may sometimes doubt themselves, but they don’t show it, says management consultant Paula Bern. They act as if they know where they’re going.
 Leaders also know that appearance and manners count. They are usually pleasant to be with; their speech is polished, their demeanor unruffled and assured.
 Be competent. Knowledge is power, the saying goes, and the best leaders know that their savvy and proficiency are part of their charisma. Competence galvanizes people, and will make them look to you for guidance and direction.