Many communities struggle when it comes to “management” and distribution of “power”, as well as understanding which role leadership has in this and in utilizing it in ways beneficial to the community. In discussions tempers often flare even before an understanding as to what leadership is has been established. Mostly the misunderstanding comes from failing to differentiate between “good” and “bad” leadership, where ethics would define which would be which.
Leadership is a process of social influence in which an individual organizes a collective effort that works towards collectively shared goals. There are many variations and approaches to this including autocratic and authoritarian, democratic and laissez-faire but the underlying concept of directing and organizing through processes of social influence are central to all of them, and regardless of legal or other organizing frameworks that may be in place to justify and to delineate the range of this social influence.
Management, by contrast, consists of the processes of planning, organizing, staffing, evaluating and reviewing and so on through which leadership is carried out in an operational sense. Management is operational and involves coordinating to get tasks more efficiently performed, and particularly where that calls for group effort.
Leadership serves to motivate members of that group to contribute in shared, managed effort.
Failing to understand the value of leadership is crippling to any organisation
Simply stated, “Leadership” is a facilitating quality towards creating a discerning, focused sense of awareness throughout the “community” about the kinds of attitudes and behaviors that are required to ensure sustained well being for a community. Leadership enables. Rudimentary, leadership is a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a task.
Once a definition and the importance of this focused awareness has been understood, the next step is to provide the skills, which will allow leader(s), or governing entities to assist in making those attitudes and behaviors a basic part of the culture. The establishment of common values and (ethical/moral)boundaries in most cases are necessary to secures the position of weaker community members or to distribute responsibility among capable members.
Unclear or fragmented goals as well as unproductive/ineffective/overly complex methodology defects the way people communicate with one another, laxity in standards, inadequate attention to how participants and their needs are served, outdated policies and procedures, and the inability of certain individuals or groups to get along are, to one degree or another, common characteristics in virtually all communities. Understanding the value of leadership may provide the mechanisms to explore these challenges and develop concrete, long lasting solutions.
How to lead
Leadership is a skill which can be taught, but it also is a quality which manifests itself in some people naturally. Recognizing this as a trait in ones self or others can be tricky, as it can cause misunderstandings about the natural leader’s character or intentions.
Signs of leadership can easily be overseen and instead appear as someone being difficult, perhaps asking too many questions, questioning directions or stepping on toes when it comes to guiding other members of the team.
While these behaviors can be initially challenging, they are all signs that the individual has the potential to be a good leader. It’s up to the group/community to recognize these signs, to identify the leader and consider the acceptance of authority in that direction. Recognizing the personality traits is the first step.
Several signs of “natural” leadership.
Question everything.- A natural leader will not hold back with questions when they have doubts. This may be challenging, and dealing with the disruption may distract from understanding the reasons behind it. Good leadership portraits an excellent ability to think analytically. A good leader will keep the main goal in focus but is able to analyse the matter, by breaking it into parts meant to be inspected.
Forward thinking.- With the questioning comes the suggestions. The natural leader will instinctively problem-solve, even when others don’t see a problem that needs solving. They will suggest new methods of approaching challenges and ways of improving processes. Naturally effective leaders have a vision. They know where they want to go and they know how to share that vision to inspire others. These leaders can see where the organization or the team needs to go before others do so. They have the ability to look at the big picture, not only inside the organization, but outside as well, to formulate an energizing vision to move the organization forward.
Helpful smartass.- A natural leader may have a tendency to correct others on their mistakes and to try to motivate those who are lagging, even when not asked for help. Natural leaders focus on achieving the goals that will make their vision into reality. Natural leaders do what makes sense to them. This is because they have used their natural strengths to evaluate the capabilities of their organization and work from both their own strength and the strengths of the organization.
Not afraid to ask.- A natural leader doesn’t have to be an expert, they are aware of their limitations and recognize potential and expertise of others. Natural leaders seek out people with different individual traits. They value the complementary skills and traits of others. Not only do these leaders value others, they depend on others to fill in their blanks. They surround themselves with people whose strengths complement their own.
Enthusiastic.- Enthusiasm must not be forgotten when talking about good leadership. A true leader inspires those around him with passion and dedication. By showing how, by having confidence and determination, A natural leader will make a group work towards the desired goal. Also, a real leader should not be scared to perform hard work, setting an example. Natural leaders win support for their vision by utilizing the style and activity that is most appropriate for them as individuals. They understand that when they are in the naturally effective zone, it works better for them as well as for the group.
Trustworthy.- Leadership cannot exist if it does not get the trust of others. Integrity and honesty are character traits that make a person remarkable. A good leader practices what he or she preaches and shares responsibility with those around him able to do so. Trustworthiness is the source of real authority, based on the trust of other people.
Development.- Natural leaders continue to develop their strengths in order to meet new needs and achieve new goals. These leaders are active learners and understand that strengths build upon themselves while trying to improve weaknesses achieves only incremental growth.
But as with any method, theory or idea, perfection is a mirage. Effective leadership has to be grounded in the practical and achievable. That does not mean not striving to do better. It means keeping goals and expectations grounded in reality.
However, never assume that leadership is simply something that a select few are born with,do not fear for opportunity to cultivate this potential in yourself and perhaps even when assuming a position where leadership skills are needed and even essential. Effective leadership comes from within and is cultivated as the cumulative product of lessons learned. Most often through (repeated) failure.