Ken Valenzuela asked:
If you want to do or understand something, you start by learning what it is. Leadership is no exception. After reading several books on the subject, I think that the best starting definition of leadership you can use is:
â€œLeadership is the ability of developing and communicating a vision to a group of people that will make that vision true.â€
Whoâ€™s a Leader then?
Someone who has a vision can communicate it and make it happen.
I like this definition because is concise and practical. Almost everybody understands it and can grasp the essence of leadership.
One of the key concepts behind leadership is ACTION. A leader has to develop a vision, has to communicate it and has to achieve it. Action is in the very essence of the leaderâ€™s existence.
In order to achieve the vision (or goal) the leader has to master five practices, as Barry Posner and Jim Kouzes state in â€œThe Leadership Challenge, 3rd Editionâ€. The practices are:
1. Challenge the Process
2. Inspire a Shared Vision
3. Enable others to act
4. Model the Way
5. Encourage the Heart
In every single practice mentioned there are commitments that the leader has to work on. Those are:
To Challenge the Process, the leader has to search for opportunities by seeking innovative ways to change, grow and improve. He has to experiment and take risks constantly.
To Inspire a Shared Vision, the leader has to evision the future imagining exciting and ennobling possibilities. He also has to enlist others in a common vision by appealing to shared aspirations.
To Enable others to Act, the leader has to foster collaboration promoting cooperative goals and building trust. The leader has to strengthen others by sharing power and discretion.
To Model the Way, the leader has to clarify his personal values and set the example aligning actions and shared values.
To Encourage the Heart, the leader has to recognize contributions by showing appreciation for individual excellence. The leader has to celebrate the values and victories by creating a spirit of community.
After twenty years of research Posner & Kouzes found that people want leaders who are credible. If thereâ€™s no credibility thereâ€™s no leadership. The authors state that credibility is the foundation of Leadership. They also, state that there are four characteristics that a leader must have to be credible: honest, forward-looking, competent, and inspiring. They found that when thereâ€™s a high degree of credibility you can expect to see the following behavior:
a) People is proud to tell others theyâ€™re part of the organization.
b) They Feel a strong sense of team spirit.
c) They see their own personal values as consistent with those of the organization.
d) Feel attached and commited to the organization.
e) Have a sense of ownership of the organization.
Leadership and Change
Leadership is most often recognized where changes take place. In changing times, is when leadership or the lack of it is evident. This opens up the question: Do we need leaders? If leadership (or lack of it) is evident in changing times, then is no surprise that more than ever we need leaders. We are living in this fast paced society, with even faster changing habits and trends, with uncertainty all around us.
To become a leader, you have to develop a vision, be able to communicate that vision, and inspire the group youâ€™ll work with to achieve it. You must have credibility. You have to build that credibility before you can lead. Do not compromise your honesty, be competent in whatever you do and be aware (forward-looking). Change is everywhere, everyday you must face it and be flexible enough to adapt yourself to lead.