Leadership Is Action, Not Position!

by Wyn Davis | Feb. 20, 2013

In my experience, the failure of organizations to thrive can almost always be traced back to an issue of leadership. We have power over ourselves; however, in order to get others to believe and act in the best interest of our goals, we must understand the value of leadership.

In our collective society we have found out quickly that any project, from the building of the pyramids to the landing on the moon, depended upon teamwork. A team needs clear goals that are shared. It needs a sense of direction. It needs to be able to work together. Above all, any organization or team that is successful requires strong leadership.

Good and effective leaders are essential to success. Without a good leader and sound leadership, even the most talented of individuals will be unable to achieve their potential or reach their goals. Without a leader's guidance, effort is nothing but an empty struggle. Without leaders (and strong and effective leaders at that), our efforts may well be in vain. There is an old saying that true leaders are born and not made. Sometimes we point to the generals or presidents of the past and emphasize their qualities of outstanding leadership. In reality, while there are natural leaders, most good and effective leaders are made. Authority can be learned. It may be true to say that anyone can learn the skills that make for good leadership.

Not everyone, however, wants to lead.

Leaders are able to organize others effectively and motivate those around them. They will be able to encourage, delegate and reward where necessary. They communicate well. They are prepared to make tough decisions and exercise sound judgment. They exhibit enthusiasm and even endurance. A good leader will sit down with the team and discuss the best way forward. Leadership means being able to evaluate and measure performance.

Leadership means reflecting on the status quo and working on how to make it better.

Any group is made up of individuals. We all have our ideas, our talents and our ambitions. We may even have an idea on how things should be done. We all have suggestions to make and opinions to be heard. Leadership means looking at the group as a whole and understanding the needs and characteristics of that group. That means knowing the resources the group has to offer. The resources of any group are the people themselves and their knowledge and skills combined.

An effective leader has the role of encouraging and developing those skills. It may be a boss offering positive advice by praising initiative.

A good leader asks how he or she can help. An effective chief will be there to support those who can't change on their own or who lack confidence. They are there to help people figure out what they can do well and what they could do better.

An effective leader cajoles us out of our comfort zones.

Our comfort zones are the predictable, safe and secure places in which we are familiar and content to reside. An effective leader will help us rethink and break free from internal and external restrictions.

Leaders bring out the best in us by forcing us to challenge ourselves.

Leadership is about courage, integrity and the laying down of challenges. Courage is the ability to do what is necessary, regardless of the risk. Integrity is the ability to do the right thing. Any leader who is successful must be able to communicate his or her ideas and vision.

Good communication is a vital two-way process. Good communication means getting the correct information. It means paying attention to what is being said. It means really listening to the speaker; reading not only words but also body language. Good communication means thinking about your response, it may mean taking notes and responding by asking questions and showing an interest.

Good communication is not just about listening, however; it is also about relaying information to the group. It means stating your ideas, aims and objectives. It means letting everyone else know why he or she is there and exactly what he or she has to do.

Leadership means explaining, supporting and guiding individuals towards a greater goal. At every stage, a good leader lets the team know what the plan is and how to execute it. A commander may even have to set the example his or herself. Sometimes the most effective way to show others is by doing. Leadership, therefore, often means participating in any activity and not standing aloof from its participants. It is about knowing what is happening and making any instructions clear.

Leadership will often be about rolling up sleeves and pitching in when necessary.

As a project develops, both control and direction are needed. It is a leader's responsibility to provide these devices. Any collection of individuals, no matter how individually inspired, can quickly run itself into the ground without either of these controls.

A group can quickly pull itself apart if there is no one who can guide, lead or steer its energies.

Through a plan and its implementation, a leader provides that direction.

We cannot know how successful we have been until we have examined our performance. Sometimes this is hard to do when we are firing away on all cylinders.

One way of allowing this assessment to take place is through evaluation. A leader should provide this evaluation. An evaluation of an activity or a task means a measurement of how far we have come. It is about how successful the team has worked. In providing an evaluation, a director is able to let the group reflect on the project. An individual should be able to understand his or her respective role within that project. Above all, it will allow the individual to identify and understand their relationship within the group. Any evaluation will also be about how to improve performance next time around.

There are no instant formulas for leadership. The skills that a leader embodies must be nurtured and developed through practice and consistent use. However, we all know what we seek in a leader because they are the same qualities we should be seeking in ourselves.

To be a good leader you will have to, above all, know yourself. That means knowing your values, strengths and weaknesses.

You should be confident that challenges can be met. You must have a vision of where you are going.

Encourage the group to develop and learn. Be prepared to learn yourself. Empowering other people to do the task means being able to motivate and help them. In yourself you must display stamina, energy, tenacity, enthusiasm and above all courage and integrity.

Being a good and effective leader is challenging and rewarding. It means taking responsibility and having the ability to focus on clear goals over the long-term. A leader will be able to maintain perspective, know how far we have come and how far we still need to go.

Being a leader is not always about being liked. It is always, however, about respect. As a leader you will have to display mental tenacity. You cannot be a leader without sometimes having to make unpopular decisions. No one can lead without facing criticism and feeling discouragement. The status quo is no place for leaders. The potential leader will always be asking, "Is there a better way to do this?" As a leader you will not always be right, and you must have the courage to admit to your mistakes. If you are a leader you will know how to turn them around.

Leadership is best rewarded when those who have been led can turn around and feel pride in what they have achieved.

A leader may have led the team, but above all, he or she must remember that they are also a part of that team.

Most assuredly you will already be thinking about the next challenge.

As Donald H McGannon said,

"Leadership is action, not position"


About Wyn Davis

Wyn Nathan Davis is MD of The Sales Experts a Professional Sales Recruitment, Sales Training and Sales Consulting company based in London, UK. We only focus on recruitment of Sales Professionals. http://www.thesalesexperts.com


About Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; Chia-Li “like JOLLY,” Succession Strategist of Value Growth Institute, dedicated to helping private business owners increase their company equity value. She is the award-winning author of the books Show Me The Money and Work toward Reward and a faculty of the American Management Association. Her blog and newsletter was named a Top Small Business Resource by the New York Times You’re the Boss blog. Contact her at jolly@chialichien.com or (704) 268-9378 .

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