The truth is that although we see countless articles and books about leadership and I think many people view themselves as leaders, there remains a great need for real leaders. Not the kind who believe they are leaders because they are the boss. The leaders who understand their place in relation to the whole.
I think the term “leadership” is often used for all the wrong reasons.
“He is a leader because all these people follow him.”
“She is a leader because she is a celebrity.”
“He must be a thought leader if he was invited to speak at this conference.”
Far from it.
Those experiences don’t make someone a leader. Let me tell you what makes someone a leader.
- A leader is someone who leads by example. How many times have you seen so-called leaders bark out orders and not get their hands dirty as well? Yes, of course, leaders have to do that which is unique to them, and the best leaders manage their time well, but what I’m talking about is understanding every element occurring within an organization.
For example, if someone on my team says they don’t have the time to make calls, I seek to understand why that is when their primary job is to make calls. What is happening during their work day that is preventing them from having sufficient time to spend ensuring that our partners are well taken care of in our social enterprise?
Although I’m the CEO of the company, and I have many demands on my time, I have sat with people (including junior team members) to understand their work flow process. The reason I do this is that if there’s something that can be improved or there’s need for additional resources, I need to know about it. If I have to sit next to someone in the bullpen area to understand what’s happening, I will do it.
Leaders don’t have a problem jumping into the fire with their team, in fact, that’s what the best leaders do because they need to understand what’s happening as it happens.
- A leader is someone who allows the team to develop their capacity. Real leadership is not dependent on actively looking for followers. It’s much more organic than that. We know there are countless people with many followers on social media or who may have some form of important status within their industry or the public as a whole. However, some of these individuals are not leaders despite the number of followers.
Instead, leaders are persons who help others develop their capacity. I know within my team that I have leaders who work for me. And, if you have an organization with some people on your team, I’m sure you know that there are leaders who work for you. Leaders don’t have to be managers. They can be junior people, but they have the charisma, discipline, creativity, and energy that earns the respect of others and they understand how to create bridges that support the efforts of the whole.
The best leaders who happen to be managers understand that their role is to provide their teams with everything they need to succeed. They foster and create environments that are challenging, but they allow their teams the room to be able to brainstorm and pilot ideas and strategies to get the work done. Leaders at the top of the organization are always seeking ways to help support the creative energy of leaders within their organization. In other words, leadership is a team effort, and it’s not dependent on the number of followers you may or may not have.
- A leader is someone who asks questions––lots of them. Leaders are always looking to understand. There’s a myth about leadership that leaders are extroverts. That can be the case, or they can be more reserved, such as Tim Cook, CEO, Apple. However, leaders are always asking questions. They are curious. They want to know the who, what, when, where and why of things.
I remind my team to talk less and listen more. There’s a reason for doing so. When you listen, you learn. If there’s something that isn’t going the way it’s supposed to be going, you ask first, second and third level questions. Asking questions helps you understand, but it also helps your team think through, and in the process explain the challenge to come up with solutions that may work better.
- What made the process work so well in the past but not now?
- What was different?
- Why was it different?
- Who wanted to change the process?
- How can the process be improved?
Leaders ask questions. The best leaders are always asking questions on any given day so they can understand.
The above are only three of the essential characteristics of leadership, but there are many more elements that perhaps come up in your mind. As business professionals, we should be students of leadership so we can continually develop and improve our leadership skills and abilities.
Read more at http://www.business2community.com/leadership/3-essential-qualities-leaders-01921791#HAXJXMs4Bh3Z7787.99