Leadership is an issue that impacts everyone. This is because everyone exercises leadership in one way or another. Most people associate leadership with a mass or a large group of people and thus assume that only some are leaders. But the fact is that everyone leads and therefore is a leader. In everyday life, people take on many leadership roles. They show a business, a family, a group or even a discussion. They call over friends and organise dinner parties. They guide their children and groom them. The daily activities of any given person demand some element of leadership. Thus, the first thing that should be clear is that everyone is a leader.
Those who lead them, in turn, are leaders of leaders. In addition to broadening our understanding of leadership, realising that everyone is a leader magnifies its importance. Am I a leader? Why am I a leader? Am I an effective leader? These are questions that everyone should ask themselves and do a bit of research to find out the answers. Why? Because everyone has to be a leader every day, learning to be effective in this area enhances and improves the quality of living. Now that we have answered the first two questions, let us see how we can become influential leaders.
The first thing that an effective leader has to be is a good communicator. A good leader needs to listen and respond to others. The leader must show what is required and how it is done. An effective leader must realise that their followers might have better ideas. These ideas must be listened to and implemented if feasible. Leadership roles demand much more than just being the “chief”.
An effective leader must delegate and not take control of everything. One is only an effective leader if one trusts. Delegation helps achieve management basics: “Getting things done effectively and efficiently”. The board also helps motivate the followers by making them feel that the leaders trust them. But delegating does not mean that the leader assigns jobs to the followers and continuously checks on them. Delegation should be done such that the leader finds the trusted employees and gives them practical tasks so that the leader feels no need to check on them constantly.
Leaders need to let go of their ‘perfectionist’ attitude of believing that if something needs to be done, then they are the ones who should do it. Leaders don’t need to be perfect. They are only human and are hence likely to make mistakes. But the leader must find ways to solve the problem and move ahead. And just like the leader, the followers are also human and are equally likely to make mistakes. So the leader must be aware of this fact, help the followers learn from mistakes, and always provide adequate support in this learning phase.
A vital quality a leader should have is understanding and realising that everyone (followers) is different. All of them are unique in that they come from different cultures, follow other religions, and have different values. The leaders should not, thus, expect the followers to feel the same way they do about certain things. Instead, leaders should respect the beliefs and values of their followers. Leaders should also invest and look into the growth of their followers, as when the followers grow, the leader themselves is pushed to the top. Followers also look for security in leaders. The leaders are their voice, and they expect the leaders to protect them from outside threats.
In the world today, leaders need to take up unconventional roles. As we can see, leadership is not only about commands. It is much more than that. It is about listening, delegating, counselling, trusting the followers and earning their trust and respect. It is about understanding the group, respecting the shared values and meanings and moving together towards a common goal.