What is Leadership?
In our context Leadership is often pegged to a title. The local politician, the preacher or priest in church is called a leader, and anyone of acclaim in the community are called leaders. However the question is: Are they truly leaders?
Let's start today with analyzing what Leadership really is. First I went to the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary and found this:
1. the state or position of being a leader
2. the ability to be a leader or the qualities a good leader should have
3. a group of leaders of a particular organization.
Now we want to concentrate on the second meaning, so that you can be the best you can in your position of Leadership as per the first meaning.
"A simple definition is that leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a commongoal." (as defined by Susan Ward https://www.thebalancesmb.com/leadership-definition-2948275)
To be an effective leader you need to learn a few skills and practices that are essential to truly inspire and motivate people:
- emotional intelligence - you need to understand the situation the other person is in and help them to be the best they can in the given circumstances.
- Communication - a Leader needs excellent communication skills, which work directly hand in hand with EQ
- Ability to inspire others - people will want to rally around you to work on the goal
- Inspire a shared vision - If you spend time with your team to discussion the vision of what you are doing and come up with a shared vision, they will give so much more than expected
- Be a Role model - You can not expect your team to do what you yourself are not willing to do. Get off the high horse and be one of the team. Do no expect special treatment or special conditions.
- Question the Process - Even if you are the one who put the process in place, check if it is adequate and applicable in the current situation. And allow your team to do the same, then as a team come up with a decision
- Enable the team - This means that you ensure they have the time and the ability to do what is expected of them. Ensure they know how to use tools or software you expect them to use. In this time of working from home, they may have problems with internet at home. Discuss with them one-on-one and find a solution. Not every company is able to finance installation of good internet. However a compromise can always be found. In one of the companies I worked, we gave each technician a loan so they could buy a smart phone. Condition was that the loan needs to be paid off in 3 months, but they had a choice between several models. In another company, recently we discussed giving members of staff a 3 month loan to help them install better internet at home.
- Encourage the heart - Yes I know, you probably think this sounds too romantic. However have you ever thought about what it means? Think about the people you met that really encouraged you? What did they do? Most often you will actually find that these were the people that took time to really listen to you and to point out the good things they see in you or the things you have achieved. If you do that to your team, you will see them growing, gaining confidence and achieving more than they even thought possible.
Have you noticed something here? These are all things you can do where you are, you do not need to be in a special position to do any of this. You can actually be a leader right now.
And all these are things you do for others, not for yourself. Leadership is not about making yourself look great and important and standing on the podium. Leadership is about helping others grow and nurturing them to become their best.
Take one of the above points and work on it for 1 month. Once you have done it for that long it becomes automatic. Then chose another one and work on it. However leave any arrogance or urge to want to be admired and seen as special behind. Leadership is about humbleness and letting the team shine.
The picture I chose actually reminds me of 4 young men I met while hiking with a big group. They encouraged those who wanted to falter and thought they would never make it. Yet every single person made it!. All these young men did was talk to them, listen to them, empathize and lend a hand during the steep parts. One even lend one girl his hiking pole. Are you surprised, that everyone made it to the top of the mountain we were climbing?
That to me is leadership. I have been watching these young men grow ever since and they are becoming true leaders that are positive influencers as well.