The topic of leadership is always important in organizations, as leaders determine the direction and success of the company by translating their vision to those who follow them. While aspects of leadership may vary by culture, it can be seen as the determinant of success or failure of a company. Companies of course want the best leaders, and many invest in training and programs to try to improve the leadership skills of their managers. When it comes to leadership, is it a skill that can be learned or is it a trait you are born with?
WHAT MAKES A GOOD LEADER?
It is difficult for a leader to lead people if they do not have good communication skills. Great leaders are power communicators; they translate not just their message, but their passion to their followers.
Without passion, leaders can be seen as uninteresting and uninspiring. People are drawn to leaders with clear passion and persistence towards a goal.
Leaders are also visionaries. This is the ability to see beyond the present, to see the big picture and lead other people towards it.
Honesty or trustworthiness is another very important mark of a good leader. As people who are in authority, leaders need to be accountable and dependable.
Lastly, great leaders are always seen as intelligent and smart. People want to follow a leader who is not only smart, but is skilled in the actual area they lead. This helps a leader gain respect.
How do leaders come about these traits? Is it by some stroke of luck, a natural gift, or a lifetime of work and personal development?
LEADERSHIP TRAITS CAN COME NATURALLY
There has been a long debate of whether leaders are born or made. What is fact is that everyone is born with a different set of natural abilities and are raised to have certain personality traits. This can affect one’s success as a leader. Natural attributes like temperaments, emotional intelligence, and general personality affect performances in leadership, just like they would in any other area. To say that these factors do not distinguish leaders would be untrue.
LEADERSHIP SKILLS CAN BE LEARNED
While innate traits may predict good leaders, natural ability becomes less important when exceptional leaders go on to achieve remarkable feats. Truly great leadership has little to do with personality traits, but rather it relies on continuous personal development. The best leaders are able to see the big picture, and are able to inspire others to lead and influence even more. This intentional progress is what sets great leaders apart from mediocre ones.
BECOMING A BETTER LEADER
How then, can someone become a better leader? Below are 6 points, that can help improve your leadership:1. Identify a leadership style that suits your personality.
2. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and how to leverage them.
3. Listen more, and get feedback from your followers.
4. Create systems that can work without your direct control.
5. Show empathy.
6. Learn more.
THE MAKING OF THE PRESENT-DAY LEADER
There are several different styles of leadership. Leadership can not be judged by a single quality, but rather it is a collection of traits which influence how a team or group of people work together and feel. As cultures respond to things in different ways, they therefore perceive leaders through different lenses. Attributes that may be praised in some cultures may not be as endearing in another.
The Japanese culture traditionally supports a collaborative leadership model and in this model, decisions are made with contributions from various levels of the hierarchy. A Japanese leader tends to be one who considers ideas and suggestions from different levels of the organization. To achieve this, leaders must have strong interpersonal skills to receive the cooperation of direct and distant subordinates. As well, the reality of globalization means that the leader may have to be conversant with other cultures and leadership styles to direct a global organization.
Some leadership traits come naturally, but many leadership skills can be learned.
Different leadership styles may suit different personalities.
The secret of extraordinary leadership lies in the ability of a leader to adapt their strengths.