“Leaders are made, they are not born.”
Leadership is a set of skills that need to be developed. Everyone has the capacity to develop their leadership skills.
Many people think leadership is a natural ability you are either born with, or you’re not, and if you're not, you’ll never become a great leader. Some people do have certain natural leadership qualities, but leadership is by and large a skill set that anyone can learn and improve on. It is a commitment to yourself, building your capacity and seeing yourself as a leader.
Great leaders always have a definite purpose in mind when they take action. Without knowing and being mindful of your purpose, as a leader you’ll find things difficult when things get tough. Having a purpose keeps a leader focused and motivated to push through the challenges. It gives you the energy to persist and keep succeeding despite the odds.
Leadership is very different from management. Management is about controlling people and resources to achieve a goal. Leadership is about influencing and inspiring people to contribute to the success of the organisation. A manager guides others in how to do their role. A leader inspires them to succeed, to reach their full potential, to exceed their own expectations, and to go on to inspire and lead others.
Good leaders don't simply tell people what to do; they also listen, collaborate, and encourage growth among team members.
Leadership is consistent.
Leadership is not a “sometime” affair that's based on our mood, how busy we are and how confident we feel. It’s an always thing, it’s consistent all the time. It’s about how we show up each day, in each moment.
Leadership is proactive, not reactive.
It is about thinking strategically and planning for the future. Reactive leaders tend to just repeat the same patterns, hoping for the best from their team, and putting out fires when they arise. Proactive leaders take the initiative and take steps to develop and inspire their team, so that their team will give their best.
Who are some great leaders?
Some examples are: Nelson Mandela, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs. All of these leaders were able to inspire people to be their best and to dream big, to dream beyond their circumstances, and to inspire the extraordinary.
Optimal leadership is where you have minimal guidance for day to day “management-type” operations. The leadership and the team have high confidence in each other, the leader believes in the team and the team believes in themselves. This is the goal for all leaders.
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership” - Harvey S Firestone.
Great leadership means the team becomes our priority, not ourselves. Everything becomes about the team, the individuals that make up the team, the business and its outcomes. We need to be able to deal with multiple situations at the same time, in terms of resources, effort and focus. As a leader, we are a resource for our team to succeed. Our leadership determines how well our team will do. No-one else is responsible for anything in relation to the business, only we as the leader are ultimately responsible.
A leader helps the team improve the way they think. The way they think about their role, about the team, and about the organisation as a whole. The aim is to improve the overall performance of the organization.
Leaders help the team think in a way that:
Challenges limiting beliefs about what can be achieved
Inspires them to own their role
Improves their performance
Enhances their job satisfaction
Encourages innovation to contribute to improvements
Improves their problem-solving
Encourages them to consider the impact of their decisions on others
Team members will thrive on this approach. They will enjoy working smarter and succeeding. They will feel fulfilled, because their work means something beyond themselves. They’ll know that what they did made a difference, that under pressure, they found a way to succeed.
A great leader is a servant leader. Servant leadership is about influencing others to serve the greater good. It is not just achieving an outcome that just benefits themselves; a great leader tries to help others and the community. They explore ways to influence their community so that everyone can benefit. Serving the greater good becomes their purpose.