What is Leadership?
Leadership is a quality that is highly prized by employers. It is difficult to define and even more difficult to measure.
Effective leaders motivate and develop their staff to get the best performance out of them, they have happy teams and low staff turnover rate. So it makes economic sense to employ skilled, talented and gifted leaders.
They create and develop a Vision, encourage a team to engage with the Vision, manage delivery of the Vision while building, developing and mentoring the team.
Managing the delivery and coaching the delivery team is where Leadership meets Management. Often the same person is the Leader and Manager, and the requisite skills sets collide and overlap. Sometimes the Visionary has a management team around them to handle delivery of the Vision. But the thing that sets Leaders apart from Managers is the Vision.
The Vision is about looking ahead, seeing a way to improve things, a transformation, and making the changes happen. It can be a product or a service.
Think of having the vision to create Facebook, the World Wide Web, or Google
In Politics it is the people who had the Vision of transformational policy change such as Racial Equality , Equality for women , Votes for women , Education for all , Equal pay, Healthcare reform .
In Engineering it is the person who had the Vision to develop the Suez Canal, the Steam Engine, and in Medicine it is the people who develop pioneering procedures
These people are demonstrating Leadership and Vision.
Leadership skills – developing as a leader
How do organizations identify potential leaders, and what can they do to develop leadership skills in their staff?
Leadership is a Behavior, an Attitude. But an effective leader deploys a whole set of skills, which we will look at in more detail later in this series of modules. In an effective and skilled Leader the deployment of the skills is not singly but in a powerful combination. For example we will look at organizational skills, time management and delegation separately. But the skilled leader uses time management to be organized, and delegates tasks to free up their time. We will study them as individual skills, and once you have mastered each of them you will begin to find your skills merging together to form a behavior pattern which marks you out as a Leader.
This is a bit like learning to drive, where at the beginning you master the clutch and that requires all your attention. Then you master the gears, and learn the Highway Code, and learn to drive in traffic. Eventually it all fits together as a seamless skill or behavior and you don’t even consider the component skills.
In the same way you may need to hone your leadership skills as individual building blocks, then they will become a Behavior.
To have a successful career, focus on developing your leadership skills. Effective leaders are inspirational and motivating, and can lift a team’s performance. They know how to encourage people and make them understand what they need to do, and they can influence people to support a Vision.
If you are a talented and effective leader, you will increase your chances of success in business as well as in life. Develop your leadership skills and those of your team members and watch your team’s performance and productivity improve massively.