Explaining and understanding the nature of good leadership is probably easier than practicing it. Good leadership requires deep human qualities, beyond conventional notions of authority.
In the modern age good leaders are an enabling force, helping people and organizations to perform and develop, which implies that a sophisticated alignment be achieved – of people’s needs, and the aims of the organization.
The traditional concept of a leader being the directing chief at the top of a hierarchy is nowadays a very incomplete appreciation of what true leadership must be.
Effective leadership does not necessarily require great technical or intellectual capacity. These attributes might help, but they are not pivotal.
Good leadership in the modern age more importantly requires attitudes and behaviors, which characterize and relate to humanity.
Leadership is centrally concerned with people. Of course leadership involves decisions and actions relating to all sorts of other things, but leadership is special compared to any other role because of its unique responsibility to people – i.e., the followers of the leader – in whatever context leadership is seen to operate.
Many capabilities in life are a matter of acquiring skills and knowledge and then applying them in a reliable way. Leadership is quite different. Good leadership demands emotional strengths and behavioral characteristics that can draw deeply on a leader’s mental and spiritual reserves.
The leadership role is an inevitable reflection of people’s needs and challenges in modern life. Leadership is therefore a profound concept, with increasingly complex implications, driven by an increasingly complex and fast-changing world.
Leadership and management are commonly seen as the same thing, which they are not. Leadership is also misunderstood to mean directing and instructing people and making important decisions on behalf of an organization. Effective leadership is much more than these.
Good leaders are followed chiefly because people trust and respect them, rather than the skills they possess. Leadership is about behavior first, skills second.
This is a simple way to see how leadership is different to management:
• Management is mostly about processes.
• Leadership is mostly about behavior.
We could extend this to say:
• Management relies heavily on tangible measurable capabilities such as effective planning; the use of organizational systems; and the use of appropriate communications methods.
• Leadership involves many management skills, but generally as a secondary or background function of true leadership. Leadership instead relies most strongly on less tangible and less measurable things like trust, inspiration, attitude, decision-making, and personal character. These are not processes or skills or even necessarily the result of experience. They are facets of humanity, and are enabled mainly by the leader’s character and especially his/her emotional reserves.
Another way to see leadership compared with management, is that leadership does not crucially depend on the type of management methods and processes a leaders uses; leadership instead primarily depends on the ways in which the leader uses management methods and processes.
Good leadership depends on attitudinal qualities, not management processes.
Humanity is a way to describe these qualities, because this reflects the leader’s vital relationship with people.
Qualities critical for a leader’s relationship with his/her people are quite different to conventional skills and processes:
Examples of highly significant leadership qualities
• positive attitude
People with these sort of behaviors and attitudes tend to attract followers. Followers are naturally drawn to people who exhibit strength and can inspire belief in others. These qualities tend to produce a charismatic effect. Charisma tends to result from effective leadership and the qualities that enable effective leadership. Charisma is by itself no guarantee of effective leadership.
Some people are born more naturally to leadership than others. Most people don’t seek to be a leader, but many more people are able to lead, in one way or another and in one situation or another, than they realize.
People who want to be a leader can develop leadership ability. Leadership is not the exclusive preserve of the wealthy and educated.
Leadership is a matter of personal conviction and believing strongly in a cause or aim, whatever it is.
Leadership sometimes comes to people later in life, and this is no bad thing. Humanity tends to be generational characteristic. There is no real obstacle to people who seek to become leaders if leadership is approached with proper integrity. Anyone can be a leader if he/she is suitably driven to a particular cause.
And many qualities of effective leadership, like confidence and charisma, continue to grow from experience in the leadership role. Even initially surprised modest leaders can become great ones, and sometimes the greatest ones.
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.
Adaptability of style is an increasingly significant aspect of leadership, because the world is increasingly complex and dynamic. Adaptability stems from objectivity, which in turn stems from emotional security and emotional maturity. Again these strengths are not dependent on wealth or education, or skills or processes.
Good leaders typically have a keen understanding of relationships within quite large and complex systems and networks. This may be from an intuitive angle, or a technical/learned angle, or both.
These have just been tips. In our “Leadership in Action” internally facilitated training system featuring W. Steven Brown, Chairman of the Fortune Group International, Inc. and author of “The 13 Fatal Errors Managers Make* * And How You Can Avoid Them” helps any organization build a constant leadership method that vastly improves people’s ability to perform.
For a PDF overview of this course and how it can be successfully implemented into your organization just request it by clicking here. We appreciate your time and hope this has helped.
Jim Strutton, CEO
© 2010 Accountability Plus, Inc.
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