Leadership is needed. Leadership is helpful. Leadership is popular.
Over the past 10 years, I have had the honor to work as a leader in various organizations both as a consultant and member of leadership teams. At each of these companies, I have learned that leadership is often confused with others concepts and terms.
Sometimes we assume that leadership is the same as management. Or we associate leadership with someone that has more experience. And other times we connect leadership to those that a position or role that is more visible. This might not be correct.
Below I identify five things that are important to know about true leadership. Enjoy!
#1: Leadership ≠ Boss
This one is present in almost all organizations. For instance, the group of people that have authority over others or more senior roles is often called the “Leadership Team”. What makes this group become instant leaders?
- Check out Ten Signs You’re A Boss — But Not A Leader by Liz Ryan. (#4 is present in many companies that I have witnessed.)
Leadership is about being an example of what a great person can be. It is not only reserved for that manage others.
#2: Leadership is Open to All
For some reason, it is common for senior managers to identify so-called leaders from among those who are in a particular group. For instance, those that have in the organization for many years are often viewed as leaders based only on their time spent at the company.
- Read 4 Ways to Define Leadership by Sammi Caramela. (#1 is something that is sorely needed to be a true leader.)
Any person no matter their time at a company can demonstrate and take on a leadership function. This is the opportunity that is often missed by senior management.
#3: Leadership Does Not Mean Having the Correct Answer
Why does leadership seem to be equated with knowledge? This is not true. the amount of information in one’s brain and the ability to recall it at will at the right does not equal leadership. Instead, focus on inclusion, collaboration, and listening to be more effective as a leader.
- Learn more by reading 14 Common Misconceptions About Leaders by Lyn Boyer. (#3 is a trap to be avoided if you want to become a true leader.)
I have known many leaders that are wiser than they are knowledgeable. Wisdom comes from experience, failure, listening, courage, observation, learning, and collaboration.
#4: Leadership Can be Developed
Nobody is born a leader. This is developed over time, with support, and through plenty of failures. To become a true leader one must be willing to take risks, learn humility, and collaborate with others.
- Dive deeper with 21 Ways to Be a Better Leader by Lolly Daskal. (#4 is about taking the high road with mistakes which in turn builds trust as a leader.)
Each person that you consider a leader had to develop these skills and abilities. So that means that you can do the same. Seek out those people and ask for advice.
#5: Leadership Demonstrates Integrity
The regional police department in my area has a great slogan – “Deeds Speak”. And this is true for leaders as well. It not about what you say and how you say it. It is about what you say and does is match your actions. “Let deeds not words be your adorning.”
- Check out Ten Habits of Super Likeable Leaders by Dr. Travis Bradberry. (#10 helps to consistently demonstrate integrity for the true leader.)
As individuals work on themselves by behaving in ways that are healthy and match their words, this integrity shines through and leads to the development of leadership.
Some Closing Thoughts
Leadership can be hard to define. Please accept my simple attempt to share my own learning and thoughts on this important topic. The more we develop our own leadership skills, the more they will be needed as we advance as human beings on this wonderful planet. This world will need leaders who can tackle future problems that we can’t even imagine in this present day. I have hope that more people will arise and become better versions of themselves. And I can’t wait to meet more of you.
Thanks and continue to look for opportunities to be real and develop your leadership abilities to the betterment of those around you. Leaders are found in every corner of the world and every part of an organization.
Paul J. Heidema