We constantly hear people talking about leadership these days; great politicians, soldiers, explorers, sportspeople, but what does it take to be a leader? Does it mean that they are the best technically at what they do? I suppose sometimes this is true. Does it mean ‘being in charge’?
I suggest that in the context of a business leader, they are someone who influences (and controls) the direction in which the group they belong to moves towards. This can be done through setting an example, rather than just power; by ability rather than position.
The leader in a group is the person who can best see or understand what needs to be done to meet the group’s needs. They are the person who can most clearly see the way forward, and what it means to the group.
They act, rather than just talk. They don’t just tell others what to do, they show them by example what needs to be done, and why it is important.
We hear a lot about ‘vision’ these days from big corporations, but it has the greatest impact when the ‘why’ is communicated. It’s the act of leadership that paints a vivid picture of what the future is meant to look like so that every member of that group knows what they are moving towards, and therefore their own personal contribution towards getting there.
A leader enables, rather than just controls, and enabling is at least as important, if not more so, than the trendy ‘empowering’. The leader brings out the best in their team. They help create an environment where each person can offer the best of themselves. Where the sum total of these individual gifts delivers just what is required, without waste.
A leader draws out the best performance from each person (the word educate is from the Latin educare – to draw or lead out).
A leader must also be brave, not fearless, because they can see the dangers more clearly that the others, but brave enough to move forward despite the risks, because they can see that standing still is no option. They will do what is needed, rather than what is popular, because it has to be done.
“Good leaders comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable”
They chose where to invest time, energy and resources. They make judgements about what is likely to work, and what won’t. Sometimes these judgements come from finely honed instincts, rather than long debate, or years of experience.
A leader is deeply in tune with their environment. They listen to what is going on, both internally and externally, and are the first ones to sense danger. The essence of leadership is survival!
So if you can see that things not only could, but should be different, rather than complaining, maybe you should be a leader and make the difference that is required. Don’t wait to be asked, don’t wait till it is your job… Just do it and see what happens!
“I am personally convinced that one person can be a change catalyst, a “transformer” in any situation, any organisation. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a transforming leader.” Stephen R. Covey
Attributes of a Leader?
Do you have what it takes to lead? At home or work, there are people who lead and there are people who follow. People like to think they can lead, however, the question is: do you have what it takes to be a leader?
Here are ten attributes of a leader:
A leader is courageous – no one would like to follow a person without courage. Non-courageous leaders cannot lead for long!
2. Self control
A person who cannot control themselves cannot control others.
A leader must be just. Treating some people one way and some people other way unveils a bias which undermines trust.
4. Definiteness of decision
A person who leads is steadfast in their decision.
5. Definiteness of plans
A successful leader must plan their work and work their plan. It is also said: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
6. Habit of doing more than paid for
A leader has the courage to deliver more than expected. People who deliver what is expected of them are loyal followers.
7. A respectful personality
A leader earns respect by being respectful. Treating others as they would wish to be treated.
8. Sympathy and understanding
A great leader understands people. They understand the problems of people and strive to find solutions.
9. Mastery of details
A person who does not require details will find it difficult to be in a leading position. This does not mean they are ‘bogged down’ by details? No, they simply understand the importance of detail and the impact it has on success.
10. Willingness to assume full responsibility
The successful leader assumes full responsibility for the work done by their followers.
If one of the team fails the leader considers that they have failed!
If a person in the team is successful, the leader gives full credit to that person for success and celebrates the team work!