There has been a lot written about leadership: rules, pointers, styles and biographies of inspiring leaders. However, there are five leadership ideas that we need to recognize and realize.
Here are the five things you should know about leadership:
1. Leaders are formal and informal.
There are many different types of leaders and you'll probably come across more than one type in your lifetime. Formal leaders are those we elect into positions or offices, such as senators, members of Congress and presidents of local clubs.
Informal leaders are those we look up to because of their wisdom and experience, such as in the case of the elders of a tribe, our grandparents; or by their expertise and contributions, like 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.
Here are the leadership styles, as described by some of the experts:
Kurt Lewin describes three basic leadership styles: authoritative, participative, and delegative.
Renis Likert believes in these leadership styles; exploitative, authoritative, benevolent-authoritative, consultative and participative.
Dr. Daniel Goleman talks about the six emotional leadership styles: visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pace setting, and commanding.
2. Leadership is life long learning. Sometimes, it appears some people seem to be born with many of these leadership traits, but without the right environment and education, they will fail to develop their full potential. So, like learning how to ride a bicycle, you can also learn how to become a leader and develop your leadership abilities.
Knowledge on leadership and the skills you need can be learned by enrolling in leadership seminars, workshops and conferences.
Daily interactions with people provides 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 the test.
3. Leadership begins and ends with you. The best way to develop leadership qualities is to apply it to your own life. Action speaks louder than words!
Leaders are always in the spotlight. Keep in mind, that your credibility, as a leader, depends on your actions. Your interaction with your family, friends and coworkers. Your way of managing your personal and organizational responsibilities; and even the way you talk with the waitstaff at your local restaurant.
Repeated actions become habits, then habits, in turn, form a persons character. Steven Coveys book, "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" provides great insights on how you can achieve personal leadership.
4. Leadership is not about you. It is shared! Leadership is not the sole responsibility of one person, but it is a shared responsibility among members of a team.
Each member has responsibilities to do. Formal leadership positions are just added responsibilities, as a member 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.
Thinking this way means, 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 the team.
Trust is built on actions and not by words. When mutual respect exists, trust is developed and confidence is built.
5. Leadership styles must be flexible depending on the situation. When the staffs are highly motivated and competent, a combination of high delegative and moderate participative styles of leadership works. However, if the staff has a low competence, in one area, or they have low commitment, then a combination of high coaching, supporting and directing behavior from organizational leaders is what works best.
The best thing you can do, as a leader, is to have someone who you trust give you honest feedback. Many of the coaching clients that I work with find this is the first time they were told something about themselves that needed to be change.