What Makes a Good Leader?
As populations increase and cultures and people become more diverse, more issues and problems face us more than ever before. Many people assume these problems and important issues will be taken care of by government but this assumption is becoming less and less of a reality. Many of the critical issues and problems are the kind government is least equipped to handle. And some of the issues and problems are caused by government itself.
This is why the world needs strong, competent leaders now more than ever before. Progress can only happen when someone assumes a leadership role – when someone tackles these problems and takes action to solve the problem and correct the injustice.
There are plenty of managers out there but what propels someone to leadership status? What is it that a leader has that a manager or an authority person doesn’t have?
We tend to admire people who can lead-people who can capture our imaginations, turn us on to important ideas, and recruit our energies for great and noble purposes. Progress happens when someone decides that a better way exists and influences others to find that better way.
What is it that these great leaders had while many others try and fail?
There are leaders who are followed because they have authority, they have a formal title or rank and command respect and attention like Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and George S Patton. People follow them because they are the boss. On the other spectrum there are people who are leaders who have earned their leaderships status without a title. They are respected and followed for what they stand for like Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and Mohandas Gandhi.
In all cases, these leaders were individuals who knew how to influence others. They understood people and they knew how to use the tools of authority. Of course the ideal way to influence is to have both formal authority and earned authority. Interestingly, it is common for a person with no formal authority and high earned authority to have greater influence over others than someone who has high formal authority but little or no earned authority. Just look at what MLK, Mother Teresa and Gandhi accomplished. They earned the respect, trust and allegiance of those who followed them. In retrospect, can you say the same thing about the bosses you’ve had, your government officials or even the Presidents of the U. S.?
Today leaders are being asked to provide a new kid of authority; service leadership. This viewpoint suggests that the role of a leader, no matter what type of authority is involved, is to lead by helping or enabling others, not by forcing them. It requires the capacity to lead both with a focus on service to those benefiting from the end result, and to those who do the work achieving the objectives. Such leadership requires working with a spirit and set of values that emphasize worthwhile contributions. Service leaders see their role as enabling or empowering others to accomplish something worthy. They are willing to place empowerment above personal power; contribution above their own ego satisfaction; and the needs of the team above their own needs for credit and acclaim.
With that said, how many people do you know who qualify as a leader? Are you a leader?
Source: Toastmaster International –High Performance Leadership