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

At 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.

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.

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.

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