Leadership Exposed: Things You Thought You Knew About Leadership

Much has been written about leadership:

Rules, pointers, styles, and biographies of inspiring leaders throughout world history. But there are certain leadership ideas that we ourselves fail to recognize and realize in the course of reading books. Here is a short list of things you thought you knew about leadership.

1. Leaders come in different flavors.

There are different types of leaders and you will probably encounter more than one type in your lifetime. Formal leaders are those we elect into positions or offices such as the senators, congressmen, and presidents of the local clubs. Informal leaders or those we look up to by virtue of their wisdom and experience such as in the case of the elders of a tribe, or our grandparents; or by virtue of their expertise and contribution on a given field such as Albert Einstein in the field of Theoretical Physics and Leonardo da Vinci in the field of the Arts. Both formal and informal leaders practice a combination of leadership styles.
· Lewin’s three basic leadership styles – authoritative, participative, and delegative
· Likert’s four leadership styles – exploitive authoritative, benevolent authoritative, consultative, and participative
· Goleman’s six emotional leadership styles – visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and commanding.

2. Leadership is a process of becoming.

Although certain people seem to be born with innate leadership qualities, without the right environment and exposure, they may fail to develop their full potential. So like learning how to ride a bicycle, you can also learn how to become a leader and hone your leadership abilities. Knowledge on leadership theories and skills may be formally gained by enrolling in leadership seminars, workshops, and conferences. Daily interactions with people provide the opportunity to observe and practice leadership theories. Together, formal and informal learning will help you gain leadership attitudes, gain leadership insights, and thus furthering the cycle of learning. You do not become a leader in one day and just stop. Life-long learning is important in becoming a good leader for each day brings new experiences that put your knowledge, skills, and attitude to a test.

3. Leadership starts with you.

The best way to develop leadership qualities is to apply it to your own life. As an adage goes “action speaks louder than words.” Leaders are always in the limelight. Keep in mind that your credibility as a leader depends much on your actions: your interaction with your family, friends, and co-workers; your way of managing your personal and organizational responsibilities; and even the way you talk with the newspaper vendor across the street. Repeated actions become habits. Habits in turn form a person’s character. Steven Covey’s book entitled 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provides good insights on how you can achieve personal leadership.

4. Leadership is shared.

Leadership is not the sole responsibility of one person, but rather a shared responsibility among members of an emerging team. A leader belongs to a group. Each member has responsibilities to fulfill. Formal leadership positions are merely added responsibilities aside from their responsibilities as members of the team. Effective leadership requires members to do their share of work. Starting as a mere group of individuals, members and leaders work towards the formation of an effective team. In this light, social interaction plays a major role in leadership. To learn how to work together requires a great deal of trust between and among leaders and members of an emerging team. Trust is built upon actions and not merely on words. When mutual respect exists, trust is fostered and confidence is built.

5. Leadership styles depend on the situation.

How come dictatorship works for Singapore but not in the United States of America? Aside from culture, beliefs, value system, and form of government, the current situation of a nation also affects the leadership styles used by its formal leaders. There is no rule that only one style can be used. Most of the time, leaders employ a combination of leadership styles depending on the situation. In emergency situations such as periods of war and calamity, decision-making is a matter of life and death. Thus, a nation’s leader cannot afford to consult with all departments to arrive at crucial decisions. The case is of course different in times of peace and order—different sectors and other branches of government can freely interact and participate in governance. Another case in point is in leading organizations. When the staffs are highly motivated and competent, a combination of high delegative and moderate participative styles of leadership is most appropriate. But if the staffs have low competence and low commitment, a combination of high coaching, high supporting, and high directing behavior from organizational leaders is required.

Now that you are reminded of these things, keep in mind that there are always ideas that we think we already know; concepts we take for granted, but are actually the most useful insights on leadership.

How to Become an Ideal Leader

When you are at work, do you get frustrated because things don’t seem to be happening the way they’re supposed to be?

You see people milling around but nothing gets accomplished. And in the daily hustle and bustle, do you feel that your goals remain just that – goals. Then maybe its time for you to stand up and do something about it.

Most people are content just to stand around listening for orders.

And it isn’t unusual to adopt a follow-the-leader mentality. But maybe, somewhere inside of you, you feel the desire to make things happen – to be the head, not the tail. Then maybe leadership just suits you fine.

Some people believe that great leaders are made, not born. Yes, it may be true that some people are born with natural talents. However, without practice, without drive, without enthusiasm, and without experience, there can be no true development in leadership.

You must also remember that good leaders are continually working and studying to improve their natural skills. This takes a commitment to constantly improve in whatever endeavor a person chooses.

First of all, let’s define leadership.

To be a leader, one must be able to influence others to accomplish a goal, or an objective. He contributes to the organization and cohesion of a group.

Contrary to what most people believe, leadership is not about power. It is not about harassing people or driving them using fear. It is about encouraging others towards the goal of the organization. It is putting everyone on the same page and helping them see the big picture of the organization. You must be a leader not a boss.

First of all, you have to get people to follow you. How is this accomplished?

People follow others when they see a clear sense of purpose. People will only follow you if they see that you know where you are going. Remember that bumper sticker? The one that says, don’t follow me, I’m lost too? The same holds true for leadership. If you yourself do not know where you’re headed to, chances are people will not follow you at all.

You yourself must know the vision of the organization. Having a clear sense of hierarchy, knowing who the bosses are, who to talk to, the organization’s goals and objectives, and how the organization works is the only way to show others you know what you are doing.

Being a leader is not about what you make others do.

It’s about who you are, what you know, and what you do. You are a reflection of what you’re subordinates must be.

Studies have shown that one other bases of good leadership is the trust and confidence your subordinates have of you. If they trust you they will go through hell and high water for you and for the organization.

Trust and confidence is built on good relationships, trustworthiness, and high ethics.

The way you deal with your people, and the relationships you build will lay the foundation for the strength of your group.

The stronger your relationship, the stronger their trust and confidence is in your capabilities.

Once you have their trust and confidence, you may now proceed to communicate the goals and objectives you are to undertake.

Communication is a very important key to good leadership. Without this you can not be a good leader. The knowledge and technical expertise you have must be clearly imparted to other people.

Also, you can not be a good leader and unless you have good judgment.

You must be able to assess situations, weigh the pros and cons of any decision, and actively seek out a solution.

It is this judgment that your subordinates will come to rely upon. Therefore, good decision-making is vital to the success of your organization.

Leaders are not do-it-all heroes.

You should not claim to know everything, and you should not rely upon your skills alone.

You should recognize and take advantage of the skills and talents your subordinates have. Only when you come to this realization will you be able to work as one cohesive unit.

Remember being a leader takes a good deal of work and time. It is not learned overnight. Remember, also, that it is not about just you. It is about you and the people around you.

So, do you have the drive and the desire to serve required of leaders?

Do you have the desire to work cooperatively with other people? Then start now. Take your stand and be leader today.

Why Should You Set Goals?

Wonder why some people could not even achieve an inch of what they dream of becoming?

Blame it on pure dreaming and lack of setting goals for achieving their dreams.

Setting goals is a very significant part of success and positive accomplishments. It is like scaling a 20 feet building and marking early on what feet you would like to reach at this specific period.

People who set goals literally create a map of their target achievements in life, marking where they should begin, where to pause, where to delve a bit, and where and when to stop. Once this map is created, it allows the map drawer to check where he is in the scheme of things and whether or not he is making some achievements that will take him closer to his goals.

 

By setting goals, people will know how they are doing and what they should be doing to achieve their targets or dreams in life.

They will know if they can relax or if they have to double their efforts when they are falling short of what is expected of them.

Goal setting means a person is proactive in dealing with challenges that may affect his plans. Being proactive means one is able to outline possible difficulties that may occur as well as the solutions to these difficulties. By doing this, a person is not easily scared or defeated when challenges occur because he has already prepared for them. He knows they can happen and he has prepared a solution or strategy when that time comes.

 

Setting goals will enable people to track their progress in whatever endeavor they have set out to do.

It will help people become more confident in themselves and more motivated to achieve their plans.

However, goal setting is not enough, as this should be accompanied by a positive outlook and self-discipline. A person may have a blueprint of where he wants to go, but if he does not have the necessary discipline to carry out the plan, then nothing will come out of it.

To be successful in goal setting, the goals that one has set for himself should be realistic and based on his capabilities, as well as selected and important external factors. Being too ambitious in setting up goals can make the goals unrealistic and difficult to achieve. However, do not also set goals that are too low because this might discourage one’s vision instead of achieving it.

It is also necessary that the person setting the blueprint for his direction should also include a time frame within which the goal will be achieved. This way, he is able to determine if he has to fast track his strategies or to slow down a bit. Goal setting will also help a person check if he is performing within his plans or if he is doing things towards the achievement of his plans.

Once you have achieved something, even a little of what you hoped to achieve, then you should always give yourself a pat in the back to keep you motivated.

But do not be too complacent with any little achievement, as this may cause you to backslide.

Setting goals can be used in any aspect of one’s life – from one’s personal or family life, to his career and finances. Goal setting can be as simple as setting a target weight when you wish to lose pounds or something big, like earning your first million.

When setting goals, it is always important to set standards that would suit your present situation, your capabilities, and other factors that may influence the achievement of your goal.