"The history of the world is but the biography of great men (and women)" - Thomas Carlyle
In common usage, leadership generally refers to: * the position or office of an authority figure, such as a President* a position of office associated with technical skill or experience, as in a team leader or a chief engineer* a group of influential people, such as a union leadership* guidance or direction, as in the phrase "the emperor is not providing much leadership"* capacity or ability to lead, as in the phrase "she exercised effective leadership. Where there is good people leadership, the potential for excellence and developing future leaders increases. Management relies more on planning, organisational and communications skills. Leadership relies on management skills too, but more so on qualities such as integrity, honesty, humility, courage, commitment, sincerity, passion, confidence, positivity, wisdom, determination, compassion and sensitivity. Some people are born more naturally to leadership than others. Most people dont seek to be a leader. Those who want to be a leader can develop leadership ability.
Leadership can be performed with different styles. Some leaders have one style, which is right for certain situations and wrong for others. Some leaders can adapt and use different leadership styles for given situations. You are interested in leadership training and development - start with leadership behaviour. Leadership is mostly about behaviour, especially towards others. People who strive for these things generally come to be regarded and respected as a leader by their people:
· Integrity - the most important requirement; without it everything else is for nothing.
· Being very grown-up - never getting emotional with people - no shouting or ranting, even if you feel very upset or angry.
· Leading by example - always be seen to be working harder and more determinedly than anyone else.
· Help alongside your people when they need it.
· Fairness - treat everyone equally and on merit.
· Be firm and clear in dealing with bad or unethical behaviour.
· Listen to and really understand people, and show them that you understand (this doesnt mean you have to agree with everyone - understanding is different to agreeing).
· Always take the responsibility and blame for your peoples mistakes.
· Always give your people the credit for your successes.
· Never self-promote.
· Back up and support your people.
· Be decisive, but be seen to be making fair and balanced decisions.
· Ask for peoples views, but remain neutral and objective.
· Be honest but sensitive in the way that give bad news or criticism.
· Always do what you say you will do - keep your promises.
· Work hard to become expert at what you do technically, and at understanding your peoples technical abilities and challenges.
· Encourage your people to grow, learn and take on as much as they want to, at a pace they can handle.
· Always accentuate the positive (say do it like this, not dont do it like that).
· Smile and encourage others to be happy and enjoy themselves.
· Relax, and give your people and yourself time to get to know and respect each other.
· Take notes and keep good records.
· Plan and prioritise.
· Manage your time well and help others to do so too.
· Involve your people in your thinking and especially in managing change.
· Read good books, and take advice from good people, to help develop your own understanding of yourself, and particularly of other peoples weaknesses (some of the best are not about business at all - they are about people who triumph over adversity).
- Achieve the company tasks and objectives, but never at the cost of your integrity or the trust of your people.
Some experts say, "Leaders are born, not made." On the other hand, certain authorities on the subject say, "Leaders c an be developed." I have to admit that I have one foot in each camp and hope that I can justify my forked-tongue! Lets examine these theories: Scene: First few days at kindergarten, the 5-6 year old kids have not known each other before. If we observe this group playing or interacting at random, we would notice that it will not be long before the majority of the kids look up to one as their leader. This could be because he is the biggest or fastest or strongest. It could also be the result of one kid being the friendliest, the peace marker, the one who plays fair and can hold the group together. Of course, the kid who has some of the physical attributes of the first type with some of the human value of the second type - such an exceptional kid would meet the definition of a born leader.
The leadership which may have been inborn in this child, is a combination of inherited leadership genes and the messages the child receives and the example it observes, consciously or subconsciously from parents, elder siblings, (pre-school) teachers, class-mates, etc. We may describe these two groups of factors as the power of genes and the power of early influences. Now, if our born leader gets the continuing benefit of good parenting, good education, team sports, activities like boy-scouts and generally positive reinforcement, the leadership qualities get stronger and refined. Also, the confidence gained builds positive ambition. Subsequently, if he/she gets into an organisation - civil, commercial or military, which recognises and nurtures this leadership talent, the full leadership potential could well be realised. In my mind, Jack Welch - the CEO of GE and General Colin Powell are fine examples of this type of born leader.
The above three paragraphs support the born leader view, but even this type of leader needs nurturing and mentoring.
Now, let us look at a person who did not demonstrate early/natural leadership qualities. Our candidate did not have the leadership head-start through genes or early influences. But, he/she is basically bright and motivated. In any event, it is difficult and, perhaps not advisable, for an organisation to find and retain all born leaders. The organisation will also look for many good solid technicians. Among those technicians, persons who show supervisory of managerial potential are given planned training and development exposure, on and off the job, and increasing responsibility that would help them be aware of and imbibe leadership skills. The born leaders and latent leaders in a progressive organisation will be given general management and leadership training although the first category would probably get accelerated training and development assuming that they are fast-trackers, as discussed in the relevant chapter. They will initially be taught efficient management. Not much later, these candidates will be exposed to effective management and how to focus on real issues and how to multiply or leverage their skills through subordinates. Considerable emphasis will be given to the importance of teamwork and on how to be a good team player.
During these on-going development programs, these candidates and young officers will get a further grounding in the companys vision and values. They are encouraged to align their own career ambitions with the corporate vision and values. Again, the better corporations values will be demonstrated by its real belief and investment in its people. They will be taught the values and virtues of fair play, and building genuine loyalty, etc. These officers will be helped to find the motivator inside themselves. In others words, the candidates of both categories, in addition to improving at least one technical skill, are consciously given opportunities to learn or improve managerial skill to at least become a component manager, combining efficiency and effectiveness. Hopefully, some will also have or gain charisma as they develop and move up the organisation. At each stage, there are regular reviews to monitor the candidates/officers process, with counseling in appropriate ways. They have to be able to take on increasing responsibility, including responsibility for the performance of their subordinates. They have to learn to take ownership of projects or problems and to carry the ball all the way. They must understand and practice the concept of the buck stops here, and learn to give attention to solving and preventing problems rather than assigning blame. (Exception: frauds and the like)
It is my belief that given the above-mentioned treatment, at least some of the officers who did not have/display very early leadership attributes or potential, will discover the hidden leader inside. This, then is the case for leaders are made. This is the second part of my rationale for being spilt between the theories - leaders are born and leaders are made, and I recommend that neither school of thought be ignored.