There is always a diverse response when you ask someone to define leadership. Many people say it is vision, courage, credibility or determination. But I sincerely believe leadership is first and foremost about people. It's about leaders releasing people to do what they need to do in the most productive and beneficial way. Leadership is about people from beginning to end.
You cannot call yourself a leader and not have followers. A leader's greatest compliment and achievement is his or her followers, and followers will reflect a leader’s positive values and vision. The opposite is also true.
Flawed leadership for example, the lack of integrity that sadly we so often associate with today's leaders – will also reproduce itself in followers.
Other attitudes in leadership will determine the altitude of both our leadership and our followers. Attitude stirs passion and drive and results in empowerment. The practise of leadership principles reproduces great people. The power of leadership influences people.
More than anything else leadership is about taking people somewhere. It's about giving direction, purpose, guidance and a sense of achievement. Therefore, the leader is a servant. Leaders help people achieve maximum impact in all their endeavours. If your goal is to motivate others to do greater things than you have done, then leadership is for you. Walter Lippmann once said “the final Test of a leader is that he leaves behind in other men the conviction and will to carry on”.
Leaders should treat others as though they were already where they should be. Leaders have to know where people should be going. Leaders help others to become what they are capable of being. Therefore, leaders must develop in themselves the skills which are essential to helping people achieve their goals. Leadership is always about relationship.
I communicate with many people through seminars and conferences and I always make it my ambition to create a relationship with my audience; I endeavour to develop a connexion with them. Otherwise, I can't really lead them anywhere. Same is true in building personal relationships with my staff: I tried to help the maximise their human potential, to lead them into growth. Providing direction an relationship are two vital elements; both require specific skills.
The relational leader is one of the greatest needs of the hour. The leader who is able to relate, to unite, to encourage, to serve, is the leader who launch other people to fulfil their potential in life. Relational leaders not only encourage people to do their best but at times call upon on them to reach beyond it and go further than their natural abilities. The relational leader will produce people who have the courage to tackle a task even if they do not possess expertise; they will do it anyway because the leader is able to rally them to the cause.
Leadership is about taking action and motivating others to do the same. Leadership is not just about holding a position or spouting what you believe. Positions and titles come and go. Action and relationship are the marks of true leadership, and they last forever.
Without people there can never be leadership. People are the heart soul and spirit of any organisation. Without them there is no need for leaders. Leaders are therefore responsible to see people use their assets. They are the ones responsible for the next generation of leadership. They need to focus on what people can be. They must identify future potential, harness it, develop it, train it up, feed it ideas, information and vision and motivate it. Without such motivation people will go nowhere
“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders,
not more followers” … Ralph Nader
The relational leader must realise that people are continually evolving. I believe in the development an evolution of every human being’s leadership abilities. People are always in a constant state of change and development. They are either increasing or diminishing in their effectiveness. Good leaders relate well to followers and will train and equip them, growing them into valuable an industrious people.
Leaders must keep people fuelled and fed to enable them to maximise their capabilities as well as overcome their deficiencies. To do this, leaders must understand they have to build relationships. In achieving anything great, relationships are far more important than either structure or management. Structures have almost nothing to do with establishing trust and respect.
People begin to maximise their potential when they come into bonded relationship with leaders where are willing to take the time to develop trust. Trust stems from relationship and is the product of people-to people-skills, not structure or hierarchy.
Warren Bennis and Bert Nanus have wisely written “Trust is the emotional glue that binds followers and leaders together”.
In my following blog posts your will discover how to bring out the best in people, both as individuals and as a team. You will discover the dynamic principles for successful leadership. Through mastering these you will begin to build a big people and your vision will grow 100-fold.
You can become the leader’s leader
Until next time
Yours in prosperity