We all agree that leadership is essential in the accomplishment of tasks and goals in organizations and companies. It is simply impossible to get things done without the courage and skills of effective leaders who take control and move others towards accomplishing set goals. Leaders are different from bosses mainly in that they inspire others to want to perform and become better. The leader is only as successful as the ones he leads.
Over the years, I have come to believe that people take on leadership roles for different reasons; 1) Some rise to the challenge because they have no choice but to. For example taking over a church project when no one else has volunteered. 2) A good fit. Others make a conscious choice to take on the mantle of leadership (even without prior experience), ready to learn as they go. 3) Meanwhile, there are the 'born leaders' with natural charisma who somehow always find themselves leading wherever they are.
Of course, these individuals who make things happen in different ways and different arenas are also of very different dispositions. Ranging from those who stand out as obviously being in control to those who lead from the back.
However, there are 4 characteristics that I have noticed to be common in leaders across the board. Whether you are in an elementary school classroom or a seminar of business professionals in some convention center, you can identify leaders by the following:
1. Always taking notes. Leaders have an insatiable appetite for knowledge, always seeking to get better so as to inspire greatness in others. Pens and notepads in hand, you will notice them listening intently, nodding along, watching carefully … and always taking notes! It is not uncommon to catch them diving for a notepad to catch a passing comment. When not in a position to write, leaders are known to make mental notes, which they later transfer to paper. Meanwhile, please permit me to add that it's advantageous to take wriiten notes whenever possible so as to keep our minds free of the pressure of having to remember important information.
2. Leaders are never afraid to ask questions. The greatest leaders personify the belief that the easiest way to learn is to ask questions. In a room-full of people, the leader is the one who raises their hand come 'question time'; maybe for clarification on a point they didn't quite get, for expansion on an item the speaker may have left out … and yes, it is not uncommon to have them go off on a totally different tangent to obtain information they've been trying to find. Where others are careful not to be perceived as ignorant, the leader's main focus is getting answers.
3. Leaders do not hesitate to air their opinions. The leader's voice is that which is often heard, be it in basic human rights affairs, local meeting groups, small business organizations, neighborhood watch meetings, etc. It is not uncommon for leaders to be accused of being out of touch with reality, labelled as dreamers, or even referred to as ignorant … because of the simple fact that they are always challenging the status quo. When every one else is saying, "Yes, sir", in order to protect their jobs or maintain a good relationship with upper management, it is the leader who brings up the issues that have been swept under the rug. A leader's voice is always being heard.
4. Leaders Collaborate and Delegate: Leaders know themselves – understanding their strengths, the extent of their knowledge base, their skill-set, and weaknesses. He or she understands that nobody is perfect or knows everything, including them; and has no fear admitting the need for help, support or reinforcement, hence the willingness to collaborate. A good leader strives to self-improve, and never hesitates to step aside to let more capable team members tackle appropriate tasks, proudly giving them credit. A leader who knows/understands his strengths and recognizes those of others is not afraid to delegate, and hence leads a more effective team. Such leaders are appreciated by their team members. He/she let's them shine.
To conclude, a leader's influence does not always have to be glaring. It is obvious in the little things; the projects they take on and results they are able to produce are often strong indicators of what they are made of. Once you identify a leader, you may want to gravitate towards them, they are the ones who make things happen.
Thank you for reading and cheers to your success!
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