In life and business, anytime we start a new project, or start working to achieve a new goal we’re often full of enthusiasm and motivation. When achieving our visions requires the help of others, we take up the position of a leader. To be effective in this role of leadership, we have to be able to inspire and motivate our team, and drive our team to completely achieve the vision.
Anybody in a position of authority can exert their power with threats of demotion, punishment, or imprisonment. Likewise, anybody can demand respect. However, a true leader will command respect because she’s capable of leading by example rather than threat or order.
While many leaders hold positions of actually authority, every true leader got there thanks to their leadership skills. They earned those positions, the respect they’re paid, and the love of their followers. No true leader has to demand respect, or demand respect based on an authoritative position. Not every leader holds a political, or organizational position of power and authority. Some simply lead the charge of their followers because they give of themselves, they sacrifice, they care, and they work hard. More importantly, their followers see this.
Effective leaders are honest, able to delegate and communicate. They often have a sense of humor and are able to take feedback and use it to their advantage. When someone parody’s them, their actions, or decisions, leaders will often take this as a compliment with a sense of humor. No leader lacks self-confidence, or self-esteem.
Creativity and intuition are hallmarks of leaders because they can express their vision, and inspire people to take up their mission. A positive attitude is important to effective leaders because it’s important for them to motivate and remain motivated. Finally, the most common characteristics of History’s best leaders are ambition, curiosity, sociability, and resilience.
Leaders who are capable of making an impact possess exceptional social and emotional intelligence, a need for change in some way, and a penchant for vision. They embody integrity, self-sacrifice, predictability, stability, and fairness.
Every leader capable of maintaining their position has command and control of their ability to regulate their emotions, deal with adversity, and recover from pit-falls. Furthermore, great leaders empower their followers and subordinates by allowing them to be heard. People who are asked to follow or obey an authority figure will only do so willingly if they have a voice. People who are silenced often will find a way to revolt or protest- even in passive aggressive ways.
When leaders aren’t predictable and stable, their followers rarely stay on board or remain loyal. Furthermore, authority figures who treat one group of people one way, and then provide special treatment to another find themselves the eventual target for their ire. Google the American and French Revolutions for the best examples history can provide as proof of this. Even traditional leadership couldn’t buck the need for people to be heard, and respected by their leaders and authority figures.
Genetics and Environment
While there is a genetic component to leadership, most leaders are essentially made rather than born. That being said, no leader is created in the vaccum of a controlled environment. The ability to lead is formed and refined through a process of:
Experiences are key teaching moments in our lives which we are willing to learn and grow from. Continuously studying, and seeking opportunities to learn are key to maintaining the ever important growth-mindset which is the foundation for all of our life-skills. Finally, resilience is the ability to adapt to change and grow rather than fall when we’re kicked down.
To add to this, there are 4 competencies which all leaders must have:
• Learning Agility
Your self-awareness is your honest understanding and assessment of who you truly are, what you’re capable of now, what you’re capable of becoming or achieving later, and your self-esteem and confidence. You have to know your strengths and weaknesses in order to identify any gaps in your skillset. To address gaps, you have to understand who you are and whether or not you’re capable of learning to fill those gaps. If not, delegation becomes important.
Communication is key to every leader because you have to be able to communicate your vision, goals, and plans to your team, constituency, or subordinates. Influence plays a role in communicating your visions, and goals so that you can align them with potential allies. Learning agility goes back to having a growth mindset.
It doesn’t matter who you are, or why you need leadership skills in your life-skills repertoire. Rather you’re a Senator, President of a Company, Boy Scout Troop Leader, Eagle Scout, Activist, Mom, or PTA parent, all leadership relies on the same set of skills, mindsets, and competencies.