I've been in some form of leadership for all of my adult life and much of my younger years as well. The question still arises – are leaders born or can they be ‘made’?
Yes and yes is what I've decided. There are definitely natural leaders who continually find themselves in leadership positions whether they ask for them or not.
I remember my own shock when I was appointed Editor of my High School yearbook when I had simply applied to be part of the Literary Staff. When I asked how that happened, the Teacher/Advisor said that the recruitment panel felt I had the kind of leadership qualities that would bring the staff together.
What were those qualities and more importantly, can they be developed? Having a vision, identifying clear goals, being a terrific communicator, being flexible and open are all great qualities to have in a leader.
For us, however, the number one leadership quality is the ability to see what’s going on. If you can truly see what’s going on around you, you are far better placed to do something about it.
Seeing is about:
- clearing away the distractions
- quickly getting to the heart of the issues
- noticing what other people need
- having clarity on what to do about all of that
Being able to ‘see’ things from other people’s point of view is one of the most impelling qualities anyone can have because it encourages fairness and creates the ability to negotiate even in the most trying of circumstances.
Next, in terms of leadership development, you need to know what makes you tick, how you got to be the way you are, your behaviour and the impact that has on others.
You need to understand how your beliefs and patterns influence your behaviour and which of those really support you and which need to be jettisoned or at least shifted in some way.
You can’t stay stuck. You need to be able to take action, even if it turns out to be wrong. Staying stuck will make you look indecisive, weak and subject to other people’s more strongly felt attitudes and demands. By taking some sort of action you will change the dynamics around you and that’s a good thing.
Finally, leadership development means you can’t do it alone. You need support. No matter how strong, capable, independent and autonomous you are or believe you are, welcoming support, displaying vulnerability and acting with humility will make all the difference to your success as a leader.
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