A Quest for Leadership Part 1 of 2
By Kim Nichols
In the political arena we talk about leaders and leadership nearly every day. Defining leadership is something we should all think about before joining a group or following an individual. It can be much harder than you may think to find a good leader within a community because leadership can mean different things to different people. Maybe the best way to define a leader is to identify what a leader in your mind is not.
Sometimes we take the concept of leadership for granted and assume that we all know what leadership is and what a great leader looks like. A leader doesn’t have to be convinced or talked into a leadership roll, on the contrary, a true leader in any endeavor is someone who steps in the gap and functions naturally – without needing other people’s encouragement to do so. The key to effective leadership is remembering that leadership means serving other people before serving yourself.
Some define leadership by focusing on human qualities like empathy, humility and integrity. Every leader has their own personal definition of leadership, which influences how they lead and the people who follow. When self-proclaimed leaders lack basic morality and ethics the result can shatter communities and destroy the very foundation of purpose or goal desired by those that follow. The way a leader acts does impact the people they work with, and when leaders are motivated by their own interests, morals may be sidestepped or even overlooked completely.
Leaders can become grandiose with power identified by risk-taking, impulsiveness, self-confidence, low empathy for others and a sense of entitlement. Many leaders like this are described as grandiose narcissists and are typically assertive and overconfident, becoming hostile when challenged. When people like this do not get the attention they feel they deserve, they may also become angry and lash out at others, or persuade their group to eliminate or destroy others who threaten their leadership role.
A true leader does not attempt to divide or exile members of their group, quite
the opposite. A true leader strives to unite and set a noble example for others to follow. In my mind, a leader is someone who does more than just lead people. They have to be driven by the right motivation and make a positive impact on the people around them.
When looking for a leader, look to someone who has a clear vision of the goals ahead and understands the importance of finding solutions that benefit everyone. They can see how things can be improved and who rallies people to move toward that better vision. Leaders can work toward making their vision a reality while putting people first. Just being able to motivate people isn’t enough — leaders need to be empathetic and connect with people to be successful. Leaders don’t have to come from the same background or follow the same path. Good leaders welcome diversity, which brings a variety of perspectives to consider and doesn’t openly pass judgement based on personal ideologies. Of course, other people could disagree with my definition. The most important thing is that organizations are united internally with their definition of leadership.
Qualities to consider should not only be what a leader stands for internally, but just as important is how they externally approach challenges. I think we can all agree on the following attributes when considering joining a group or becoming a leader yourself:
COLLABORATIVE: Leadership is a collective process that requires leaders and their team members to work together to achieve success. An effective
leader focuses on aligning their goals to that of their team members. It keeps the employees and leaders on the same page about business goals and objectives.
ACCOUNTABILITY: An effective leader does not hold his team accountable for the failure of a project. Instead, they find out the root cause of the failure and discreetly work on solving the issue. This very quality of a good leader sets them apart from managers, who generally hold their subordinates responsible for every discrepancy.
COURAGEOUS: An effective leader is courageous and can face difficult situations alone. They dare to do what they deem is right, a decision that leads them closer to their goal. Undeterred and unaffected, a good leader takes many decisions that seem unpopular at first but turn out to be successful.
GOOD LISTENER: A good listener understands, processes information communicated and acts upon it or provides feedback. An effective leader should be a good listener who works upon the information shared. Strong leaders also provide feedback and ask the right question at the right time.
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR: This is one of the top leadership qualities that every leader should possess. An effective leader’s words can light a fire in people that pushes them to achieve the unthinkable. A good leader should be articulate and put across their point succinctly. Effective communication goes hand-in-hand with being a good listener and ensures that business goals are met smoothly in the stipulated time.
FLEXIBILITY: The adversities of the current business environment do not bother a good leader because they have a flexible personality trait that makes them accommodate change. This very quality of a good leader also helps them embrace different perspectives and empower team members by providing them with a place for growth. A leader works with a team of distinctive individuals from different walks of life. So, welcome new ideas with open arms.
EMPATHETIC: Leaders foster emotional intelligence, which helps them empathize with people around them. In addition, being an active listener helps them understand the thought process of their team and become a good leader.
FOCUSED: Being focused is one of the many distinctive qualities of a good leader. They are focused on achieving long term benefits for the business and their team. Good leaders push their team members towards achieving the best of their capabilities.
CHALLENGES STATUS QUO: An effective leader challenges the status quo rather than confiding in it. They guide their team members through difficult times and motivate them to do the same. This quality of good leaders differentiates them from average leaders and managers.
Read more about the quest for leadership in Part 2 in the next issue of The Payson News.
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