This article is about leadership in its different forms such as formal as in policy and business and informal as in the older of a family. People who’ve achieved a great deal in their field of endeavour have positions of leadership bestowed upon them. Leadership is a process of becoming and it begins with the individual. It is a shared process with a team of people. Depending on circumstances different styles of leadership are needed in practice.
Much has been written about leadership: rules, styles, pointers, and biographies of inspiring leaders throughout world history. But there are certain leadership ideas that we ourselves fail to acknowledge and realize in the exercise of reading books. Here is a short list of what you thought you knew about leadership.
Although certain people appear to be born with innate 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 be a leader and hone your leadership abilities. Knowledge on leadership theories and skills may be formally gained by enrolling in leadership seminars, conferences, and workshops. Daily interactions with people provide the possibility to observe and practice leadership theories. Together, formal and informal learning will help you gain leadership attitudes, gain leadership insights, and thus furthering the circle of learning. You don’t 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, attitude, and skills to a test.
Digging Deeper into Leadership
The best way to develop leadership qualities is to implement it to your own life. As an adage goes ‘action speaks louder than words. ‘ Leaders are still in the limelight. Keep in mind that your credibility as a leader depends much on your actions: your interaction with your family, co, and friends-workers; your way of managing your personal and organizational responsibilities; and even the way you talk with the newspaper vendor across the street. Repeated actions become habits. Habits in turn form a person’s character. Steven Covey’s book entitled 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provides good insights on how you can get personal leadership.
Leadership isn’t the exclusive responsibility of one person, but rather a joint responsibility among members of an emerging team. A leader belongs to a group. Each member has responsibilities to fulfill. Formal leadership positions are merely added responsibilities aside from their responsibilities as members of the team. Effective leadership requires members to carry out their share of work. Members and leaders work for the formation of an effective team starting as a simple group of individuals. In this light, social interaction plays an important role in leadership. To learn how to work together requires a lot of trust between and among leaders and members of an emerging team. Trust is built upon actions and not just on words. When mutual respect exists, trust is fostered and confidence is built.
There is no leader without the team members. The responsibility of achieving objectives is a common responsibility as the leader alone cannot achieve them.
A person may be made leader as a formal position but this doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she can bring the team together to carry out the tasks at hand. Each member will enjoy their own skills that makes them informal leaders in those areas.
How come dictatorship works for Singapore but not in the United States of America? Aside from culture, value system, form of government, and beliefs, the current state of a nation also affects the leadership styles used by its formal leaders. There is no rule that only one style can be used. Most of the time, leaders employ a combination of leadership styles based on the situation. In emergency situations such as periods of war and tragedy, decision-making is a source of life and death. Thus, a nation’s leader cannot afford to consult with all departments to arrive at crucial decisions. The case is of course different in periods of peace and order—different sectors and other branches of government can freely interact and participate in governance. Another case in point is in leading organizations. When the staffs are highly motivated and competent, a combination of high delegative and moderate participative styles of leadership is most appropriate. But if the staffs have low competence and low commitment, a combination of high support, high coaching, and high directing behavior from organizational leaders is required.
The style you choose will also rely on the skill level of your team. You may use a combination of high delegative and moderate participative styles, for a highly qualified and motivated team. But if the team has low competence, you may need to utilize a combination of high supporting, high coaching, and high directing leadership styles.
Now that you’re reminded of these things, to bear in mind that there are always ideas that we feel that we already know; concepts we take for granted, but are actually the most valuable insights on leadership.