Harald Anderson asked:
Some people appear as such natural leaders one wonders if they were born with the quality of leadership. It’s possible that this may be true. However, even for these “so-called” born leaders, the right environment is crucial to help them develop to their fullest potential.
Observing and learning
Leadership requires learning. Anyone can learn to become a leader. There are enough leadership training courses and seminars on offer. Leadership books are a great place to start your learning. The best way to learn, however, is to observe leaders in your home, work and social environments and try to learn from them. The best time to observe a leader in action is when there is a crisis. Crisis-handling is where most leadership skills come into play and the person is required to respond quickly and decisively and set things right.
Try to observe both kinds of leaders – formal leaders like elected representatives of local and world bodies as well as informal leaders like your own parents, grandparents or community elders. All these people can offer great insights on leadership and help you garner knowledge on the skills that go into leadership.
You must keep in mind that leadership is not something you can learn in a day. You must find ways and means to learn from your daily experiences, and put your learned skills and knowledge to use in day-to-day situations whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Remember, though, that leadership styles are not learnt in a day. It needs daily use to learn from daily experiences and to put your learnt knowledge and skills to the test.
It is so true that ‘practice makes perfect’. It is not enough to have read books on leadership and acquire theoretical knowledge. In order to develop your own leadership style, you must find a way to apply what you have learnt whenever an opportunity comes your way. With practice, you will find yourself getting better at it. And people around you will also start recognizing your ability to take charge and naturally turn to you for direction. This is the way a leader emerges.
Leadership is not just about how to handle situations. It is a quality that you carry around with you when you deal with colleagues, friends, family or even the grocer. It shows in every bit of your demeanor. The way you carry yourself or interact with people shows a lot about your leadership quality. If you manage your organizational and personal responsibilities well, your leadership will be seen.
The trick is to keep using what you have learned till leadership becomes a habit for you.
Building Trust between you and your Team
A leader is only as good as his team. The leader alone cannot achieve the objectives and must share the responsibility with his team members.
The formally appointed leader is not necessarily someone who can get the team inspired to work together and complete the required tasks. In fact, each member of the team will have his or her own expertise making them the ‘informal’ leaders in their area of expertise.
The job of the formal leader is to make the team work together and build trust so that it becomes a cohesive group. Mere lip service will not achieve this. To build confidence and trust, your actions must match your words.
To sum up, leadership is something that comes out of an ongoing learning process through observation, training and study. But the best way to learn is to keep practicing what you have read or observed at every given opportunity.