The above question sounds simple enough, and when answering many will tell you that leadership is simply being in charge or in command, being the one to make the decisions. While this is absolutely true, we must understand that leadership is so much more than that.
While the word ‘leadership’ holds simple connotations for most, it means much more than simply being in charge or making decisions. We must understand that there are effective leaders and there are those in a position of leadership; they are not necessarily the same thing. You see, the difference here is position versus purpose.
What do I mean by this?
Often times many persons are given a position where they are in charge of others. However, there hearts have no desire for progress or change, so they keep doing the same things that have always been done. It’s not that they’re not capable but they have not developed a desire for purpose in that role. They may have a lot going on but their actions don’t give inspiration to those around them, and therefore, they struggle to gain momentum in their leadership.
What we must understand is that leadership isn’t just about the leader, but also about the people they lead. As a leader you will develop a purpose for your leadership by having a heart for the people that you lead. Real effective leadership isn’t about getting people to confirm to your way but about transforming people’s faith in their own abilities through your vision. Successful people identify what they do well; but successful leaders identify what others do well.
Aside from the above, I firmly believe that there are a few more key characteristics that any leader should have. Some of these key characteristics are:
1. Innovation: Leadership is about introducing something new or different that hasn’t been seen before or taking something already existing or established and transforming it into something new or different. Good leadership is creative and transformative. Innovation in leadership is a process which takes time.
2. Decisiveness: A leader must not be afraid to make decisions. Sometimes those decisions will be very hard choices but a leader must have the ability to make good decisions quickly and effectively. Often times, those closest to you may not agree with your choice but being decisive may be the difference between life and death.
3. Problem Solving: A leader must have the ability to solve a problem, whether that problem is in the conception of ideas, in the operation of the organization or even with individuals. They must try to see clearly and be objective. When problems are ignored or not resolve they can grow and become even more dangerous later on.
4. Compassion: A good leader not only cares about achieving their vision but is also empathetic to the needs and concerns of others, especially of those that follow you. A simple compassionate act can motivate even the most disheartened follower to continue on or persuade the hardest enemy to see differently. Leaders must show that they care!
As you may see, these few characteristics are not actually about the leader but how the leader related to others in their role as leader. Successful people position themselves well; successful leaders position others well. Not through favouritism or elitism but through vision. Because the greatest legacy of any leadership is producing more leaders not devoted followers.