Whenever you mention the word leadership in front of 10 people, you can be sure that all of them will have slightly different pictures in their heads.
Leadership means many things to many people. In fact, most people get it all wrong when they assume that leaders are the political office holders.
Leadership is very crucial that John C. Maxwell said, “Leadership is everything”.
Leadership is everything? Yes.
No matter who you are or what you`re doing, one major strength you must possess is leadership strength.
It takes leadership skills to be a good political leader, it takes leadership skills to be a successful church leader, it takes leadership skills to be a successful business leader, it takes leadership skills to be a good husband, and it takes leadership skills to be a good mother.
In fact, in my experience, it takes leadership to be a successful employee.
Do you doubt this?
Let me share my experience with you.
I got employed to a particular organization sometimes ago. I had no certificate to present (because I hate certificate and I never collect it from school), but I was there as the member of the management team.
When I wanted to leave, my boss pleaded that I should not leave. Why? Because my little leadership skills was an asset for his organization.
What I my saying here? An employee with a better leadership skills will succeed at climbing the organizational ladder easier than the employee with poor leadership skills.
So, what is leadership?
Leadership is the ability to create vision, believe in the vision and influencing other people to achieve the vision while you act as the forerunner.
Just as you might have guessed, the above definition was arrived at by me. It`s nowhere formal or academic.
Wikipedia may have a more academic definition so let us check it up. Wikipedia defines leadership as “a process of social influence in which a person can enlist that aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”
Let`s take time to check what other experts say about leadership.
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality”… Warren Bennis.
Just as I said earlier, as a leader, your primary responsibility is to see what others (followers) cannot see. This is called vision. Then, you`re to translate this vision to reality by organizing the necessary tools, team and human resources needed.
A political leader must have vision and the ability to translate the vision into achievement. Not just a political leader, a business man must have vision, or else there will be no business in the first place.
Every today`s giant companies were started my visionary men who saw what others couldn`t see (that`s vision) and then organize human and material resources to accomplish their dream.
“You don`t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case”… Ken Kessey.
You might have heard this more than once, leadership by example.
As a business leader, a political leader or any other forms of leadership, your work is not to show the way, but to walk the way and inspire others to follow. If you instruct your employee to resume at work by 8am, you have to be there by 7:45am. If you fail to do this, you`ll lose the trust of your followers.
That you will take the lead really doesn`t mean that you have to do it all. Listen to what this great business leader has to say…
”No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it”… Andrew Carnegie
One of the attributes of great leaders (whether in business, politics and any other areas of human endeavour) is the ability to delegate authority. A leader must learn how to fix the right peg into the right hole.
Let`s listen to what others have to say about leadership…
“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.” Robert Loius Stevenson
Another attribute every leader must possess is courage. Everybody is fearful, except the leaders. You know what that means?
If you and your wife are going out on the road and a big green snake comes out by your side, both of you will be afraid but one of you will never show it… you.
Your wife is likely to scream and hold you. You`re like to tell her, “Honey, cool down. I will kill this snake”
What you demonstrate above is leadership.
As a business, political, or any other kinds of leader, you and your team may face some fearful situation.
You must not show you`re afraid, even if they do. Courage is an essential trait everyone expects from his leader.
I remember then when I was a political leader on campus. We will stand in front of the crowd and speak with all the audacity and courage we could carry.
As little as courage to speak in public could be, it may determine whether or not you will win election or get your business team inspired.
What other attribute must you have as a leader?
“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others… avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a great leader”… Lao Tzu
Though you`re the first man, you mustn`t act like a lion.
One thing about leaders is, they carry strengths and power. They are usually seen as “special ones”.
But be warned.
The same people who are willing to follow you because they see you as worthy of their devotion also desire to be treated as humans. They want to be respected, even by you. that`s where humility comes in.
I have tried it and it works.
When you`re humble people love you.
Humility is the secrets of great business leader like Sam Wanton and world leader like Mantma Gandi. Wanton, though a billionaire would sit down in the same restaurant with his employees. Gandi would dress like just an average Indian. He lived the simplest life you may think of.
A leader has to be firm but humble.
“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” Dwight D. Eisenhower.
That exactly is the reason why we said leadership is about influence. It`s about leading people to do what they want to do.
Some think about leadership as being autocratic and authoritative. Just as my previous expressions indicate, If you followers are not happy following you, then, you`re not a leader.
That doesn`t mean of course that you have to please everyone. No. You sometimes (many times) have to take decisions that will hurt some of your followers and, especially in politics, you may at times have most people against you than in support of your leadership.
When this happens, you should understand that it is by nature of men that we get bored with people and situations.
Usually people get bored with political leaders after 5 years of their governance.
If you act in your best capability, you can be rest assured that the same people who hate you today will tomorrow say, “When Stephen was our governor, he did so well”. That`s human beings for you.
While the above situation is not common in the business world, you can be sure that there will be times when your decisions will make some of your employees or team members angry.
So long you`re acting in the best interest of the organization, you must not be afraid of hurting few people. In fact, you must learn to do so.
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you`re not passionate enough from the start, you will never stick it out” Steve Job.
Here Job is talking about passion.
People don`t follow words. They follow passion. If you saw Obama talking when he was contesting for United States president, you`ve certainly seen passion at work.
When you see a business leader who ever dominated a market place, check under his chest and you`ll see his passion. I cannot imagine a successful leader without passion.
You have to be passionate about your new product or else nobody will raise money to finance it, no employee will be passionate marketing it and no buyer will be passionate buying it.
You have to be passionate about your political agenda or why you think your opposing party is a failure, or else, nobody will vote for you.
We have talked about Vision, Courage, Humility, Passion, Delegation, Influence and Leading by examples as major attributes of good leaders.