If you were to ask 100 different people this question, you’d probably receive 100 different answers. Leadership means different things to each person which is why it can sometimes be difficult to pinpointwhat exactly leadership is. The dictionary tells us that leadership is “the action of leading a group of people or an organization” but what exactly does that entail?
In any organization or business, there are obviously abundant roles. The role played by those in leadership is absolutely vital to the success of the organization as a whole.
Leaders don’t just hire employees, they invest in each employee’s professional development. Leaders don’t simply evaluate performance, they help encourage and drive success. Leaders don’t demand results, they roll up their sleeves and get right to work alongside the team in order to enhance performance.
Leaders work to create a vision and then they effectively communicate this vision to the team allowing each member to fully understand their role in helping shape the ultimate goal.
Where management is very task oriented, leadership adds in the ability to drive results. Leaders aren’t tasked with creating a machine-like process in their teams, rather they aim to ensure all members of the team to know what the mission is and fully understand their role in completing that mission.
Qualities Leaders Possess
There are many personality quirks and abilities that set a person apart and make them well suited to roles in leadership positions. Having these qualities makes it much easier to step into a leadership position, and it also helps a person function well in their role.
Here are some key qualities of effective leaders:•
Visionaries – Leaders must have vision. They need the ability to see both the big picture and the small picture at the same time. Leaders must be able to determine where they are and where they want to go. They must be able to figure out all the steps that need to be take along this path as well.•
Communicators – Leaders must be effective communicators. Once a leader has envisioned the future, it’s vital that they are able to communicate this future to the team. Also, the leader needs to be able to accept communication and feedback from the team while everyone plots out their path to the destination. Leaders must be able to discuss challenges and successes with the team as well.• Goal-driven – Leaders need to be goal-oriented. A lot of the tasks along the way will be mundane and often challenging. It’s all too easy to get bogged down and neglect the bigger picture. Leaders are adept at keeping the end goal in clear focus and then motivating themselves and others to remain on track to reaching that goal at all costs.•
Inspiring – Great leaders are inspirational. Again, sometimes things will be rough, sometimesthings won’t go as planned, and sometimes everyone will feel like throwing in the towel. Leaders make sure they keep their team fully apprised of their status and they inspire the team to keep pushing through any roadblocks and challenges that crop up. •
Challengers – Leaders have the ability to challenge others. Leaders realize that there is not necessarily one single way to accomplish any given task and so they’re not afraid to challenge the status quo. Leaders can think laterally and do things differently. Leaders aren’t risk-averse and they aren’t afraid to stand up for their team when needed.•
Honest – Leaders value integrity and they are unfailingly honest. Being evasive and telling half-truths is never going to encourage others to follow your vision. Convincing others to come along on the journey and inspiring them to stay when things are hard depends greatly on the leader’s personal integrity and honesty.•
Leading by example – Leaders lead by example. This almost goes without saying but needs to be said. People don’t like to be bossed around, but they do need a firm idea of what’s required of them. When a leader is in the middle of it all, being honest, following through on what they say they’ll do, inspiring others to keep going, challenging when necessary, and pushing toward the goal… well, it pushes the whole team to follow the example laid down.
Roles of A Leader
There are hundreds of roles a leader can play on any given day and that’s one of the exciting things about being a leader. While every leader will have a different method of operation, all leaders play pivotal roles in the success of their company or organization.
Strategist – When you are a leader, one fundamental role you play is as a strategist. Not only do you need to be a visionary for your team, often you need to communicate this vision to the people above you as well. It’s not enough simply to have a goal, you need to strategize how to get there and you need to determine metrics for measuring success along the way.
Communicator – A leader is a strong communicator. Not only will you be communicating your vision to your team, you will often be tasked with delivering information to other departments, executives and even the public. Being an effective communicator is not just a necessary trait for a leader, it’s essential within an organization on many levels.
Coach – Leaders work to help develop the skills and talents of others and this often involves coaching them. Leaders must be able to give constructive criticism and feedback to team members when necessary. Celebrating successes and giving direction to teammates is important and it helps everyone grow and function better within the organization.
Adaptor – Change is inevitable, and leaders must be highly flexible. When things don’t go as planned, leaders must be able to adapt to the situation and change course. Also, as a leader you might sometimes be tasked with encouraging your organization to adapt to changes so they can pivot direction. Being the one tasked with helping the company to adjust and adapt to different things is a large role and one you must be ready to embrace as a leader.
Innovator – This goes hand-in-glove with some other qualities but it can stand on its own as well. Leaders are innovators. They challenge the status quo and come up with innovative ways to do things. Inyour role as a leader, it’s your job to help drive the change within your organization through new and innovative ideas. Without innovation, businesses die. The innovation required in your leadership role is vital to your company thriving rather than merely surviving.
Delegator – No one person should be responsible for everything and a leader realizes this. When taking on the role of delegator within a company, it’s down to the leader to recognize when a job or a task needs to be accomplished by someone else. In this role you will also be able to determine who is best suited for certain tasks and find delegation straightforward.
Don’t expect these roles to be clear-cut and defined. You won’t likely find a job title that lists you as the Leader of Innovation. Instead, realize that these descriptions are of roles you will play out each day at work.
Being a leader can be hard work but it’s also incredibly rewarding.
Every leader will use their personality qualities to be effective in their roles as leaders but each individual leader will have their own specific style.
We’ll now highlight some of the most common leadership styles:
Visionary – A visionary leader is frustrated with the way things are and they possess a great desire to implement change. People who lead with a visionary style will increase efficiency through changing processes. Visionary leaders offer unique ideas about the future direction of the company and they have an uncanny knack for getting people to share this vision.
Affiliative – An affiliative leader is an expert communicator. They use their skills to help team members form strong relationships and keep conflict to a minimum. They work hard to keep morale high and to make the team feel like a family.
Pacesetter – When the leader is a pro at leading by example, they are setting the pace for the rest of the team to follow. Leaders who lead in this way are often very goal-oriented. Pacesetting leaders have high standards and challenge their team to meet these standards.
Coaches – A coaching leader is always working toward the future. They help their team by gathering people and determining strengths and weaknesses. They then try to build upon the strengths and improve the weaknesses. Coaches want to bring out the best in their team members and often do so by providing a working environment without too much overt pressure.
Democratic – Under democratic style leadership, the leader emphasizes teamwork. They try to be thoughtful and collaborative, working to value the opinions of the team and they involve everyone in the process of making decisions.