Becoming A Successful Leader

What are the key requirements for becoming a successful leader?

1. Are leadership qualities inherent?

2. How does a leader does differ from a normal person?

3. What are the principal leadership qualities?

4. What are the distinctly different leadership styles?

A leader is one who can lead others, who can control the behavior of others and who can influence others to perform in the desired way.

Leadership is not limited to position, experience, training, title or authority. After studying the biography of hundreds of historical and contemporary leaders it can be concluded that to a large extent leadership qualities are inherent although good leaders can be trained or created.

Inherent leadership qualities sometimes need to be polished and refined through relevant experience and by giving the individual some authority. But this does not mean that a person who does not possess those inherent qualities cannot become a leader. Any person can become a leader if the will to become a successful leader is strong enough and by self-development through self analysis, training and specific experience.

There are different types of leaders:

  • Formal leaders are those we elect into positions or offices such as the senators, congressmen, and presidents of the local clubs.
  • Informal leaders or those we look up to by virtue of their wisdom and experience such as in the case of the elders of a tribe, or our grandparents; or by virtue of their expertise and contribution on a given field.

Both formal and informal leaders practice a combination of leadership styles:

  1. Lewin’s three basic leadership styles – authoritative, participative, and delegative;
  2. Likert’s four leadership styles – exploitive authoritative, benevolent authoritative, consultative, and participative;
  3. Goleman’s six emotional leadership styles – visionary, coaching, affiliative, democratic, pacesetting, and commanding.

Steven Covey’s book entitled The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People provides good insights on how you can achieve personal leadership.

Leadership starts with you:

The best way to develop your leadership qualities is to apply the actions of a leader to your own life because “actions speak louder than words.”

Leaders should keep in mind that their credibility depends on their actions: your interaction with your family, friends, and co-workers; your way of managing your personal and organizational responsibilities. Repeated actions become habits. Habits in turn form a person’s character.

The key requirements for becoming a successful leader therefore include the ability to employ a combination of leadership styles depending on the situation. In emergency situations, decision-making may be a matter of life and death. Another case in point is in leading organizations. When the staff are highly motivated and competent, a combination of high delegative and moderate participative styles of leadership are most appropriate. But if the staff have low competence and low commitment, a combination of high coaching, high supporting and high directing behavior from their leaders is required.

Two Leadership Strategies

Two Leadership Strategies: Don’t Lose Your Mind & Be a Coach

Are you feeling overwhelmed, a lack of confidence or under a ton of pressure? Are you trying too hard to make something work and focusing too much on trying to fulfill other people’s needs and expectations? You may have “lost your mind!”

My small still voice often speaks to me in cryptic one-liners. I’ll never forget the first time I heard the quiet whisper, “You’ve lost your mind.” And no, I had not lost my mind through hearing strange voices! Rather, this cryptic one-liner was reminding me I was trying too hard to fulfill other people’s expectations and solve their problems.

This cryptic statement harkened back to an article I had read by Management Consultant, Barry Oshry. This article referred to Middle Managers who begin their careers as healthy humans but in time become confused, weak, powerless and self-doubting as they slide into the ‘Middle Space’ becoming torn between demands from the people Above and Below? hence “losing their mind.”

At that time I had taken on a new contract to facilitate a six week “Leadership” series for a local college. In my anxiety to do a good job I was trying too hard to emulate the program designer’s “superior knowledge” and trying hopelessly to solve the high-stress, workplace problems of the managers who were my participants. Of course, I knew I had the necessary skills and experience to facilitate this series yet, I had “lost my mind.”

Focusing on other’s needs and expectations removed me from my own knowledge and power. My stress elevated and my self-confidence plummeted. Thankfully, that gentle nudge of “you’ve lost your mind” helped me see how I was eroding myself through comparing myself and worrying about what other people thought, wanted or needed. This is our cue to stop, step back inside and reconnect with our own truth – our own God.

In doing this we step back into our own authenticity and own power. Here we can reformulate our own view, thoughts and perspectives on what is happening and what we need. We can let go of the guilt and self-doubt we feel in trying to meet other’s expectations or in trying to solve their problems. We can relax and trust in our Higher Power always there for us.

Certainly, as leaders, managers, family members and humans we have a responsibility to listen and empathize with those in our close circle but it is not our job to solve their problems or fulfill their expectations? which is all a part of the coaching process. Rather than striving to give other people answers, everyone concerned is better served if we instead help others to reflect on their own solutions or options. This is what it means to be a coach.

Be a Coach

We can let people know we care about their situation and that we are willing to work with them to empower them to solve their own problem.
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