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 Develop Practical Leadership Skills

Leadership can be a quality that everyone claims to value, yet many have a hard time defining. If you would like develop into a better leader, you do not should rely on expensive consultants that charge you sizable fees. Many of the most valuable tricks of being a better leader are very an easy task to learn.

Leadership can be a quality which everybody claims to value, yet many have a hard time defining. If you wish to be a better leader, you may not have to depend on expensive consultants that charge you sizable fees. Some of the most valuable tricks of being a better leader can be easy to learn.

First, the old saying that leaders are born, not made is misleading. Even though some people could have more innate talent within this field as opposed to others, anyone that is prepared to just work at it might improve their leadership skills. With more experience, you can expect to develop into a more potent leader.

A good leader takes the initiative and is not going to hold out for somebody to tell her what to do. In case you are always waiting around for direction, or maybe you never move out of your comfort zone, you are unlikely to showcase the qualities of the effective leader.

Even if you are not currently within a leadership position at your workplace or in a company, you are able to still display initiative. Go beyond the minimum and accept additional responsibilities. If you see something that should be done, handle the problem as soon as possible.

Critical thinking and the capability to respond flexibly to unexpected situations can be another key characteristic that defines great leaders. When you are so fixed within your habits of believed that you can not step away from the box, you will fight to inspire others to follow you.

An excellent leader has to be one step ahead of the situation always. Rather than just reacting to whatever happens, you have to be in a position to step back and determine what will likely be happening next. Use this information to make your plans so that you as well as your organization are certainly not caught unawares.

Communication can be another key skill that leaders have to possess. Inside a well-run organization, information should never simply flow in a direction. You should be able to listen for the employees and consider their perspectives while you are making your decisions.

Leaders who happen to be ready to accept new ideas and who hear what folks ought to say will be more respected and are quicker in a position to inspire others to go by them. By focusing on these and also other leadership skills, you are able to develop into a more potent leader in the short time. By doing this, you can make sure that you are able to achieve your goals as soon as possible.

Are You An Expert Or A Thought Leader?

I remember when I first started my coaching business and the idea of saying I was an expert gave me a queasy feeling in my stomach. After all, who was I to say I was an expert? Wouldn’t that be bragging or worse – wouldn’t I be laughed at if I didn’t know the answer to a question?

These thoughts and feelings come up for many people when they begin their businesses. Yet it’s a necessary evil because having expert status has always been a cornerstone of your brand.

After all you don’t typically see commercials for “we kind of know what we’re doing” you see commercials for “we are the BEST at solving your problem.”

Positioning yourself as an expert is important because people want to work with service providers that deeply understand what they’re going through and can expertly guide them to a solution. They are going to hire the person they trust to take good care of them.

The problem is that when everyone is positioning themselves as experts it becomes increasingly difficult to stand out in the marketplace, and naturally a new echelon of expert as emerged – the thought leader.

A thought leader goes beyond expert status- they aren’t just sharing knowledge, they have a message to share and challenge the way you think about a subject.

It’s a term I’ve been hearing more and more over the last year. I’ve even been using it myself when I describe my ideal clients.

You see an expert possesses a special skill or knowledge in a particular area. They are a trusted adviser, they can do things for you, or tell you how to do things you couldn’t do yourself because you haven’t reached the same level of mastery.

A thought leader doesn’t just tell you something though, a thought leader helps you experience it for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

A thought leader has so much expertise in their area that they have the confidence to challenge the status quo and introduce new paradigms. They demonstrate their mastery by stepping out of the box.

They have a mission and a message that they are passionate about sharing with the world.

If you want people to hire you to do something then being an expert is enough. If your goal is to effect change and inspire people to change the way they look at the world then positioning yourself as a thought leader is essential.

So the question is, are you an expert or a thought leader?

Holly Chantal is the founder of The Land of Brand, a website design and branding company for coaches and solopreneurs. Go to http://www.thelandofbrand.com and download a free video training on how to use your personality to create a unique brand – because your mom was right when she said you were special.

Leadership Training Course