“Born to rule; born to reign”
We all grew up hearing things like that, didn’t we? In fact, you could take a survey of a handful of people from different walks of life in a room at any point in time, and be quite confident that at least 90% of them grew up hearing similar things!
Often, I find myself asking the questions “Who is a leader?” “Am I one?” “If everyone is a leader, who, then, is a follower?” The answers to these questions are not simple, and most of them are certainly far from straightforward.
In researching the meaning of leadership, I found a variety of definitions from experts on the subject, all of which have been widely critiqued – yes, even John Maxwell – and found to be flawed in some way.
The most satisfactory of these was from Forbes contributor Kevin Kruse, who defined leadership as a process of social influence that maximizes the efforts of others towards the achievement of some goal. The most important parts of this definition are the recognition of leadership as being primarily a function of influence over other people; influence directed towards the achievement of a goal. Leadership also transcends positions of authority or rigid definitions.
Everybody can be a leader to nearly anybody, and we can do it in a million and one different ways, in the pursuit of two million and two different goals.Tweet
Leadership is, in its essence, very fluid. However to be truly great leaders and create an impact in the people we lead with the influence we have, certain skills are important.
Versatility and Initiative
Leadership can often be difficult, with a road filled with twists, turns, and bumps. Navigating obstacles often requires versatility – the ability to readily adapt to changes and the flexibility to create unconventional solutions to problems.
Integrity of values
While compromise could be important in some situations, there must be a strong set of touch-not values for every leader. A leader makes decisions not just for herself/himself, but for a group of other people as well. Without a strong set of values, it’s easy to sway bit-by-bit until after a while, you find that you have veered far off the vision. It takes discipline to put your foot down in those times, but staying the course of the original vision is important.
Communication, beyond leadership, is important in any relationship. It’s the very backbone of interpersonal relations, no? As a leader, though, it is important that while you are able to communicate your values and vision to your followers, they can communicate to you their expectations of your administration and at times, their dissatisfaction. It is important that a leader does not hold the reins of power so tightly that the followers feel stifled, because that could be the beginning of the end.
Teamwork, Motivation and Conflict Resolution
Full workforce collaboration is the fastest, most effective way to achieve any goal. And while friction and conflicts of interests are inevitable, it’s important to ensure, as a leader, that the team works together as seamlessly as possible. Usually, we say that nothing should get in the way of the goals of the team, but for the team to function effectively, every member should feel like their welfare is a priority. Don’t be a slave-driver. Make your followers feel cared for, and watch them pursue the team goals with a very personal passion.
Leaders seldom run out of work to do, but your personal development is important too. Let yourself rest, and find time to build skills and improve personally. Some form of respect does accrue to a leader from being one step ahead skill-wise. Sometimes, finding time to stay on top of your game will require you to delegate duties. Don’t be scared to do that. Delegation helps build trust in the team, and develop your team members. Things might be wonky at first, but the better days are always there a little farther down the road; just past the imminent obstacle.
There is one last question I asked that has remained unanswered, though. If everyone is a leader, who, then, is a follower? I’d love to see your answers to that, as well as your thoughts on leadership, in the comment section!