Things You Thought You Knew About Leadership
Much has been written about leadership: rules, pointers, styles, and biographies of inspiring leaders throughout world history. There are certain leadership ideas that we 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. Both formal and informal leaders practice a combination of leadership styles.
2. Leadership is a process of becoming.
Although certain people seem to be born with leadership qualities, without the right environment and exposure, they may fail to develop their full potential. So like learning how to ride a bike, you can also learn how to become a leader and enhance your leadership skills. Knowledge on leadership skills may be gained by enrolling in leadership seminars, workshops, and conferences. Daily interactions with people provide the opportunity to observe and practice leadership basics. Together, formal and informal learning will help you gain leadership attitudes, gain leadership insights, and further the cycle of learning. You do not become a leader in one day and quit. 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 the old saying goes “action speaks louder than words.” 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 and interact with strangers. Repeated actions become habits. Habits in turn form character. Steven Covey’s book “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 a team. A leader belongs to a group. Each member has their personal responsibilities. 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 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 a successful team. Trust is built upon actions and not just on words. When mutual respect exists, trust and confidence is built.
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.
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