During my life i have been privileged to work with and answer to excellent leaders, though i have also have had to work for leaders that are not so good. The differences between good leaders and bad leaders are huge. A well qualified and good leader can achieve so much more than a leader with lesser skills using the same amount of man-power and resources. From my experience i would state that it is difficult to become a good leader, but the rewards are amazing if you achieve this goal.
"Leadership" is defined in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, and has three primary definitions, being:
- The role of a leader
- The ability to lead
- The instance of leading
While these are concise definitions and give us some insight, there isn't much to pinpoint from these definitions what leadership actually is. Though this is no surprise when we think about it - indeed the concept is complex. There are many variables and factors to consider for the role of leader ship, such as personality of all members of the team, the leadership process, the company culture, and the results that are gained.
In my experience, it would be fair to say that there are less good leaders than bad leaders, and that many leaders assume that leadership skills develop naturally as more rank is gained over the years. I believe this is wrong, and does not accurately interpret the definition. Bad leaders that i have noticed have commonly had this attitude towards their role, and as such, they merely make demands, rather than to help nurture and develop the performance of subordinates. This can lead to anger and frustration for the employees, decreasing efficiency and performance, though this could be avoided if the leader understands that he or she needs a wide range of leadership skills to provide good leadership, and get the ball rolling.
I don't believe that anybody will naturally have the skills of a leader, because like all complex tasks, it requires time to learn, practice, and experience. A good leader is not born but trained, and most people will have the basis for good leadership if they put in the time to learn and develop. He or she can learn the skills they need to know, to provide the true leadership skills needed for co-workers and employees. And their skills can inspire others to do the best work they can, and to take up leadership for themselves.
As previously stated, leadership involves the personalities of the people under authority and the leader, a process which the group tackles, and the overall progression from the start to the end goal. A good leader should love the process of achieving goals, because this ensures that targets are met and morale is maintained within the group, helping them to work more efficiently. A good leader should also take an active and sincere interest in the goal set, and the people he or she is leading, and should have honest and have strength of character. They are able to associate personally with the group, while still maintaining the authority which their position demands. Instead of acting as simply a middle man between deadlines and managers, they should inspire their subordinates, and enable them to succeed with creativity and willingness. A good leader should encourage strength and achievement, and education.
Even good leaders need to find ways to keep their skills sharp and to keep on improving, and the following questions help with this improvement:
- Am I working and presenting myself so my subordinates look up to me and want to follow me?
- Do I set a positive example with my personality and actions?
- Do I uphold morality and respect within the group?
- Do I provide support and training to help develop my team so they do the job the best they can?
- Do I let myself get bogged down by the minor details and lose sight of the overall goal? Do i labor too much over individuals' every minor task?
Apart from the last point, a good leader can answer "yes" to these questions, otherwise modification of tactics is required.
A very important aspect of leadership is communication. A leader should know how to communicate clearly and effectively so that subordinates understand what they need to do, and what progress is being made. He or she should never assume that an individual will understand orders when they are vague or unclear. Listening is as important as talking, as subordinates will have detailed information about tasks that can help performance, while the leader both keeps these in mind and focuses on the big picture. A good leader will give appraisals for employees who give better insights that help towards performance.
I believe that an organization's best asset is their leaders, since they are the ones which translate resources and employees into results, and they ensure that employees work to the best of their ability in helping the organization's success.
A true leader will never think that he doesn't have anything more to learn to improve his or her leadership ability, and this is the stance I will always take in becoming the best leader I can.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, https://www.m-w.com/dictionary/leadership , April 25, 2006.