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The first major challenge of any person, family, country, organization, or business is leadership. Without leadership, it is impossible for any entity to make reasonable advancement in the right direction. The realization of this fact brings us to the real question – What is Leadership?
The term is so frequently used in every aspect of life without much thought to the meaning of the word. For different people, leadership means different things. In the business world, some define leadership as having the acumen for business or as having a vision or achieving goals for an organization. For some others, leadership is more about humility, integrity, respect for people, and other social ideals.
“Leadership is the organizing and coordinating of resources, relationships, and energies in a productive context for the intended results.” ~ Linus Okorie.
From the definition, it is clear that leadership is all-encompassing. True leaders have the ability to pull resources and people together, win the heart of the people through mutual respect and integrity, and inspire others to action in order to achieve a defined goal or set of goals. No leader whose legacy will transcend their time and generation can afford to be lacking in any of these skills.
Leadership has little or nothing to do with age or seniority or position in a hierarchy. Leadership happens, and needfully so, at all levels and ages. Though people may occasionally find themselves in positions of authority, leadership is separate from the position. In fact, for an organization to achieve a consistent level of growth, every member of that organization must be a leader in their own offices and spaces.
Leadership is different from management. While managers are skilled at organizing resources and other material things, leaders are saddled with the more inundating task of leading people. Leaders are visionary people who can properly and enthusiastically articulate their vision and then inspire others to want to work to achieve the set goal; managers, on the other hand, are skilled at overseeing the tactical steps needed to accomplish the set objectives.
Furthermore, as people have diverse personalities, interests, and motivations, leaders also have various leadership styles best suited to their natural predispositions, behaviours and mindset and to those of their followers.
These styles of leadership range from Autocratic Leadership style to Authoritative Leadership, Democratic Leadership, Laissez-faire Leadership, Transactional Leadership, Transformational Leadership, Strategic Leadership, Bureaucratic Leadership, and Servant Leadership styles. As the names suggest, these styles are different from each other and might be beneficial in a certain environment while doing more harm than good at another time.
It is, therefore, imperative for every leader to take the pain of discovering the style that is best fitted to their personalities and to the kind of people that they lead.
In contrast to popular opinion, leaders are not born, they are made. The first step in the making of leaders is self-discovery, which will help people realize what they are passionate about and should commit to, articulate a clear vision with an accompanying plan on how to achieve that vision, understand what leadership style is natural to him and what qualities can be worked on to be a better leader.
This leadership capacity building process is facilitated in programmes like the GOTNI’s Leadership Masterclass where participants will be exposed to experts who through years of practice and coaching have developed workable strategies to help them discover themselves, understand the uniqueness of their organizations, and develop processes to improve on qualities that they must possess to be great leaders.
Thankfully, the process of self-development to become a better leader does not have to be a lonely road. Examining the lives of people who are inarguably some of the greatest leaders that have graced the surface of the earth, there are a few qualities that anyone who would be a great leader should strive to imbibe.
For everyone who desires to be a good leader in their own space, it is important to develop and nurture these qualities.
A Strong Sense of Purpose
Strong leaders have a very strong internal compass guiding their actions and with which they decide the best move to advance their course. They always keep in mind the reason they started their pursuit and never lose track of it.
A Deep Sense of Urgency
For great leaders, progress is not satisfactory if it is slow. Great leaders are self-driven with a deep desire to get things done right away. They are masters in execution.
Closely accompanying the sense of purpose in every leader is a passion that is almost palpable by their followers. Great leaders have a contagious excitement about their course and know how to transfer this excitement to the people they lead.
A Mindset of Lifelong Learning
“Readers are leaders”
This statement has proven to be more than just a cliché. Good leaders are committed to a lifetime of learning and self-improvement. They understand that their skills and knowledge need to be constantly updated in order to keep up with the competition and to retain the trust and dependability of their followers.
Good leaders know they cannot go so far alone. They, therefore, let other people shine when they deserve the credit. Sometimes, they did the major work or overcame the challenge, they relinquish the glory to someone else because they know that putting others in the spotlight will boost the morale of the team and contribute to the greater good.
This might not obvious but good leaders know when to be vulnerable. They admit their mistakes and ask others for help when they need it. They are not afraid of looking silly sometimes.
Great leaders are master communicators. They know how to explain their mission in such a way that their followers are completely sold into it, and they know how to give praises and constructive criticism without putting others off.
Probably the most important quality every leader should strive to possess. Integrity makes you trustworthy and makes your followers respect you.
Leadership is the greatest challenge of this age. More than ever before, the world is in desperate need of good leaders. The good news is that leaders are not born, they are made. People need to step up and build in themselves the qualities that make for good leadership. Only then can we realize our full potential as a race.
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