Leader. Leading. Leadership. The concept behind these three words have been subject of study for many years and yet still we seem to have a void in genuine and authentic leaders due to the current scene of the leadership landscape. Just look at the current trends surrounding persons in leadership capacities around the world and you will see what I am talking about. So what makes a good leader better and a better leader great? Here is a thought I would like to begin with:
True leaders don't confuse being in the position to lead with the act of leading.
In other words, just because one is in the position to lead does not mean that they are engaging in the act of leading.
I am convinced that despite all the available information on leading being able to lead is still rare today. I have been observing leaders for more than 10 years from all areas of life from business to church to government and have also had the privilege of speaking to several leaders in these fields. Based on my observations and discussions, I have come up with a definition of leadership that I would like to share with you. Here is my definition of leadership:
“Leadership is the learned ability to assemble and mobilize human resources to achieve a common vision through inspiration, empowerment, and transformation.”
Leading is a learned behavior. This means that everyone has the innate ability to be a leader but they must be willing to learn HOW to lead people through trial and error. Many people know about leading but knowing how to lead and being able to effectively execute a leadership role is a different story.
However before anyone can think about becoming a leader, they must first be convinced of that reality themselves. If you are not convinced of the fact that you have the ability and capacity to function as a leader, you will never be able to lead effectively as the popular saying goes: "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." When you become convinced that leading is a learned behavior that anyone can learn, then you have just won the first battle of leadership. That then is when you begin the journey of discovering the art of leadership.
There are three words I want to focus on that are always associated with leadership. These words are:
·Inspire: people are inspired when they observe that you are someone that they can relate with. The ability to inspire comes through the ability to be relatable. If people cannot relate with you, they will not be inspired by you.
·Empower: people are empowered when they observe you taking interest in their development. That is because you are highlighting areas in their lives that they now need to take responsibility over. No more pity party. Sympathizing and empathizing does not mean condoning your request to have a pity party.
Transform: people are transformed when they observe your commitment to their development. They would not want to disappoint you and so they make it their business to ensure that they are constantly developing.
What this means is that you can only lead people when they observe qualities in you worthy of following. Case in point: why do many of our youth look up these pop culture artists? It is because they observe "qualities" in them worth following. Why do so many persons look up to persons who are already successful in business or their careers? It is because they observe "qualities" in them worth emulating.
So people don't have an issue following, the issue only arises when as a person in a leadership position you are not worth following. At that point, you cannot demand respect from persons under you because there is little in you that is worth following. Therefore, leadership is never assumed by a person but it is attributed to them because it is the people who follow a particular individual that makes them a leader. Although you may have been placed in a position of leadership, you only become a leader when people can look up to you and believe that you worthy of following.
That means leadership has very little to do with telling people what to do as is so commonly believed and a whole lot to do with adding value to people through the process of inspiring people by empowering them with the necessary tools and resources in order to help them transform their thinking and ultimately their lives. All of that begins with them being inspired to do better and achieve better by their observance of you.
So leadership it not just limited to being in a company or organization; it transcends the workplace. If then you are a "leader" of people and they are not being inspired, empowered, or transformed for the better by your example in any area of life outside of the work environment, then we have a problem.
So ask yourselves these questions: in my position as a leader, am I learning how to become a better leader? How am helping to inspire, empower, and transform the people in my sphere? Am I adding value to the people under me? When people look at me, can they observe qualities worth emulating? Am I being the example of leadership that I would follow?
These are sobering questions that if answered truthfully and accurately can have the ability to completely transform the leadership scene that we are currently seeing. Think about the thoughts presented in this blog and then if you are a “leader” and your actions are not inspiring, empowering, nor transforming the people being led by you, then I suggest that you take a moment to reflect and reevaluate your position as a leader. The ultimate goal in writing this blog is to hopefully stir up and motivate those already in positions of leadership and also the aspiring leaders by helping shift the perspective to view leadership from a broader perspective and begin developing and cultivating some authentic and genuine leadership qualities in our lives.