Leadership Exposed: Things You Thought You Knew About Leadership!
So, you thought you know everything that has been written about leadership?
You may be one of those people who read and understand the rules, styles, and biographies of inspiring leaders throughout world history. However, there are certain leadership ideas that you might have overlooked.
Surprised? Here are some of them:
1) Leaders come in different flavors.
There are different types of leaders and you will probably encounter more than one type in your lifetime.
Formal leaders are those elected for positions. These include senators, congressmen, and presidents of local clubs. Informal leaders are those consulted by others for their wisdom and experience, such as elders of a tribe and grandparents. Another type of informal leaders are those respected for their expertise and contribution in a given field such as Albert Einstein in the field of Theoretical Physics and Leonardo da Vinci in the Arts.
Both formal and informal leaders practice a combination of leadership styles. Experts attempted to classify leadership styles:
Lewin’s three basic leadership styles refer to authoritative, participative, and delegative
Likert’s four leadership styles include exploitative authoritative, benevolent authoritative, consultative, and participative
Goleman’s six emotional leadership styles are visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and commanding
2) Leadership is a process.
People with innate leadership qualities are nurtured by the right environment and exposure in order to develop their full potential.
Leadership can be learned, very much like learning how to ride a bicycle. Knowledge on leadership theories and skills may be formally gained by enrolling in leadership seminars, workshops, and conferences.
Daily interactions with people provide the opportunity to observe and practice leadership theories. Together, formal and informal learning will help you gain leadership insights and thus continuing the cycle of learning. You do not become a leader in one day and just stop. Life-long learning is important in becoming a good leader for each day brings new experiences that put your knowledge, skills, and attitude to a test.
3) Leadership starts with you.
You develop leadership qualities best when you apply it to your own life. As an adage goes, “action speaks louder than words.” Leaders are always in the limelight. Keep in mind that your credibility as a leader depends on your actions and interaction with your family, friends, and co-workers. It also depends on how you manage both personal and organizational responsibilities and handle simple matters, such as the way you talk with the newspaper vendor across the street.
Repeated actions become habits. Habits, in turn, form a person’s character. Steven Covey’s book entitled “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” provides good insights on how you can achieve personal leadership.
4) Leadership is shared.
Leadership is not the sole responsibility of one person. It is a shared responsibility among members of a team. A leader belongs to a group where each member has responsibilities to fulfill. A formal leadership position is merely an added responsibility aside from a leader’s role as member of the team.
Starting as a mere group of individuals, members and leaders work towards the formation of an effective team. In this light, social interaction and establishment of mutual trust play major roles in leadership. Trust is built upon actions and not merely on words. When mutual respect exists, trust is fostered and confidence is built.
5) Leadership styles depend on the situation.
Why does dictatorship work for Singapore but not in the United States of America? The leadership style used by formal leaders is influenced by culture, beliefs, value system, form of government, and economic conditions.
Most of the time, leaders employ a combination of leadership styles depending on the situation. In emergencies, such as periods of war and calamity, decision-making is a matter of life and death. Thus, a nation’s leader does not have the time to consult with all offices to arrive at a consensus. Of course, the case is different in times of peace where different sectors and other branches of government can freely interact and participate in governance.
Another case in point is leadership in organizations. When the staff members are competent and highly motivated, a leader can use a combination of styles which involves delegating responsibilities and encouraging participation. However, if the staff members have low competence and commitment, a leader has to use a leadership style that involves coaching, supporting, and directing.
You just have to keep an open mind for opportunities for learning on the said topic. There are ideas that you think you already know and concepts you take for granted, but are actually the most useful insights on leadership.