Everyone can be a leader for sure. But that is like saying anyone can quit smoking or everyone can go the gym and be super fit. The only thing that obstructs is intent.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nOur education system doesn\u2019t help either. We were never taught in school what exactly it meant to be a leader. Inevitably, it\u2019s the outstanding performers in studies or sports who would be pegged as leaders. Leadership hence became associated only with better individual performance. That\u2019s invariably true in corporates too \u2013 you perform better than others as an individual, and you are scaled up to a leadership position.\u00a0 I suspect that is probably how my leadership journey started too.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nBy watching some amazing mentors in this journey, I realized how important it is to demonstrate the \u201cFive Exemplary Practices of Leadership\u201d in my daily actions.\u00a0 Whether we like it or not, as leaders, team members are always looking to us for direction, inspiration, vision and appreciation \u2013 a leader\u2019s credibility is on the line at all times.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nIt is still early in my leadership journey, but as I introspect \u2013 here is what I would want to teach someone just embarking on this journey:\r\n\r\n \tLeadership is all about building credibility. Stephen Covey spoke about the \u201cemotional bank balance.\u201d But what nobody told you is that there is also a \u201ccredibility bank balance\u201d you run as a leader. Whenever you do what you said you would do, there is a credit, and if you slip, there is a debit. Sorry, no excuses allowed \u2013 it is unforgiving mathematics. If you have a reasonable credit balance, you are \u201cmodeling the way\u201d often. Else you need to pull up soon!\r\n \tThe journey of leadership starts with you. What do you stand for? What are your deepest values? Why so? Have you plumbed deep enough? These questions didn\u2019t matter as much as an individual player, but before I could tell my team what I believed as a leader, I needed to find it myself! \u201cBut I don\u2019t like to introspect\u201d is a bad attitude and statement if you are in a leadership role.\r\n \tThis may seem very basic, but it\u2019s important \u2013 one size does NOT fit all. If you have 8 people in your team, chances are that each one is completely unique from the other in terms of attitude, temperament, communication style, and in what motivates them. The onus to understand and adjust to each one of them and communicate in different ways, specific to that person, lies with\u2026 you guessed it right: you as a leader!\r\n \tHaving said the above, I realize leadership is not a popularity contest either. It takes courage to challenge people, their beliefs and behaviors, but sometimes the bitter medicine administered through openness and speaking the hard truth is what works best. Of course, you also need to choose your fights wisely \u2013 incremental works always better than drastic in my experience.\r\n \tComing in with the legacy of being a star performer, sometimes the toughest challenge for me as a leader has been letting go! Having trust, putting faith, giving responsibility and \u201cenabling others to act,\u201d is easier said than done. Delegation is an art that I still struggle with. Letting others do tasks carries the risk that if the team fails to do the task well, it makes me as a manager look incompetent or not in control. But the risk is part of the terrain.When the risk placed turns out well, it not only frees my time for other work (of which there is always enough waiting), it also allows others to think independently and to innovate and ultimately builds the atmosphere of trust.\r\n \tThere is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, \u201cPeople won\u2019t care how much you know until they know how much you care.\u201d As a leader, you need to inscribe that sentence on your heart as one of the best pieces of advice ever. For me, that has meant not just going through the motions but genuinely caring for the people that I work with. This meant getting to know each of them at a much deeper level, knowing what brings them to work, what are the challenges they face in life everyday, what keeps them up at night. Not just saying I care, but truly feeling it too.\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nYes, leadership is a challenge \u2013 but it is one that each one of us should endeavor to take. Everyone can get super fit if they show the intent. Similarly, all of us can be leaders if we show the intent.