Who Can Be Called a Leader?
The theme of leadership is relevant for many areas of life: business, politics, sports, etc. If we compare the various definitions, then leadership is it is a way to influence and control. For many, a leader is a person that is guiding and moving people to a certain goal.
What is the difference between an ordinary person and an effective leader? Many scientists are still involved in this issue. The Great Man theory is one of the most well-known and simplest answers to this question. Its proponents – historians, political scientists, psychologists and sociologists – say that a person who has a certain set of personality traits to be a good leader, regardless of the nature of the situation in which this person is located will be a leader at any case. The absolute embodiment of this theory is the notion of a charismatic leader, of whom the surrounding people worship.
So what qualities should a modern leader have? Robert Dilts in his book “Alpha Leadership” identifies the following key qualities of a leader:
Vision. A true leader is able to look ahead. This person can foresee the future, see the perspectives and on the basis of a personal vision, to guide the team forward to the goal.
Motivation. The leader is able to promote himself and his team. Even in the most desperate situation, the leader believes that the way out is there. The leader must be able to inspire and motivate others to action.
Detection of weak signals (high sensitivity). The modern world is a world of change. An effective leader is attentive to changes in the outside world, in his team, and in himself. The ability to receive feedback and respond quickly to changes means to be a half-step ahead of everyone.
Flexibility in behavior. The leader is able to respond quickly and has different strategies of behavior. For each person, he has a unique approach and tries to interact from a win-win position, where both sides get a mutual benefit.
In addition, it is important for a leader to possess such qualities as purposefulness, systemic thinking, courage, ambition, activity, curiosity, and organizational skills.
In general, it is very difficult to predict on the basis of personality traits if a certain person will be a good leader or not. Therefore, over time, the researchers began to believe that it is not enough to consider only personal characteristics. It is necessary to take into account the situation in which these traits are manifested. In this regard, Fred Fiedler’s situational leadership theory has become popular. This theory suggests that the effectiveness of a leader depends on how the leader is focused on the problem or the relationship, and how the leader controls and influences the group.
Leaders are made, not born. Researchers believe in the leadership potential of every person. The process of realizing their leadership potential begins with the ability to guide themselves, their condition and motivation. This is an internal form of leadership. It involves taking responsibility and the ability to keep the situation under control. In the next step, a person starts to take the initiative into his or her own hands in some situations. Gradually, moving from simple to complex, we can develop the leadership skills and improve efficiency.
“An effective leader – someone who knows their own individual characteristics (whatever they were), which can be useful to him as a leader, and uses it wisely,” wrote R. Goffee and G. Jones, modern scholars of leadership. To learn more about individual characteristics and how to find them, everyone can learn from different popular forms of leadership training.
Leadership for many organizations is the key problem today. Leader is not always the manager, but always is the one whose opinion is valuable to the team and whose input remains as the last word. Current approaches to this problem focus on the leader’s ability to create a new vision of the situation and inspire employees to achieve high results.
1. Deering, Anne, Robert Dilts, and Julian Russell. Alpha leadership: tools for business leaders who want more from life. Chichester: Wiley, 2002.
2. Fiedler, Fred Edward., and Martin M. Chemers. Improving leadership effectiveness: the leader match concept. New York: Wiley, 1984.
3. Goffee Robert, and Gareth Jones. Why should anyone be led by you?: what it takes to be an authentic leader. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2006.
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