Leadership is defined as the ability to motivate a group of people toward a common goal. Many of the images or people associated with great leadership have their roots in conflict. It is the stuff of generals who outwit their opponents, politicians who convince and channel groups into action, and people who take control of a crisis. We are directed to special individuals like Gandhi or Joan of Arc or Napoleon. The stories around such people seem to show that there are moments of crisis or decision where the actions of one person are pivotal. They have a vision of what can, and should be, done and can communicate this to others.
Sounds like a manager right? No! You will find many books, articles and information on why being a manager does not necessarily set you up to be a great leader. The 2 are a completely different set of skills, however, they can be used together effectively. Here is how..
Good leaders are made not born. If you have the desire and willpower, you can become an effective leader. Good leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience. As a manager who would like to become a better leader to inspire your employees into higher levels of teamwork, there are certain things you must be, know, and, do. These do not come naturally, but are acquired through continual work and study. Good leaders are continually working and studying to improve their leadership skills; they are NOT resting on their laurels.
Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. Leaders carry out this process by applying their leadership attributes, such as beliefs, values, ethics, character, knowledge, and skills. Although your position as a manager, supervisor, etc. gives you the authority to accomplish certain tasks and objectives in the organization, this power does not make you a leader, it simply makes you the boss. Leadership differs in that it makes the followers want to achieve high goals, rather than simply telling people what to do.
Bass’ theory of leadership states that there are three basic ways to explain how people become leaders. The first two explain the leadership development for a small number of people. These theories are:
- Some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles. This is the Trait Theory.
- A crisis or important event may cause a person to rise to the occasion, which brings out extraordinary leadership qualities in an ordinary person. This is the Great Events Theory.
- People can choose to become leaders. People can learn leadership skills. This is the Transformational Leadership Theory. It is the most widely accepted theory today.
What are the skills of a great leader?
According to a study by the Hay Group, a global management consultancy, there are 75 key components of employee satisfaction (Lamb, McKee, 2004). They found that:
- Trust and confidence in top leadership was the single most reliable predictor of employee satisfaction in an organization.
- Effective communication by leadership in three critical areas was the key to winning organizational trust and confidence:
- Helping employees understand the company’s overall business strategy.
- Helping employees understand how they contribute to achieving key business objectives.
- Sharing information with employees on both how the company is doing and how an employee’s own division is doing – relative to strategic business objectives.
So in a nutshell — you must be trustworthy and you have to be able to communicate a vision of where the organization needs to go.