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What is Leadership? And What Does It Mean to Be a Leader? What Skills do Leaders have?

In the business world, we talk about leadership and leaders almost daily. But we never try to define leadership

Leadership isn’t as simple as we might think of it. We must take time to define leadership and really be sure what it is all about because understanding it is crucial to developing great future leaders, as well as improving ourselves.

Leadership” definition varies from person to person and situation to situation. For example, when asked what leadership means to you, You may relate it to religious leadership, community leadership, campaigning groups’ leadership, political leadership, and so on. So, we perceive a variety of images whenever we try to define what is leadership. For example;

  • An executive, who develops their organizational strategy to compete with the competitors.
  • An explorer, who makes a path out of nowhere for his people to follow.
  • A political leader, who pursues a personal and passionate cause.

Leadership isn’t much about management processes rather it’s about visionary thinking. The most effective leaders are those who create an inspiring vision, set direction, and achieve great organizational performance. 

They map out where they need to go to succeed as a team and as an organization. Leaders are the ones who are made to do the right things and who make things right.

Since leaders are responsible for setting the direction, they need to use management skills to lead their people in the right direction in an efficient and smooth way. 

We can say, that great leaders should also be great managers. This article will enlighten the process of great leadership and what do the leaders do.

Leadership Definition

Whenever we try to define leadership, we find no single definition. Rather, we can say that effective leadership is a product of some desirable attributes. The effective leaders are those who master a set of skills to:

  1. Create an inspirational future vision.
  2. Inspire and motivate people to take part in the execution of that vision.
  3. Manage work to deliver that vision.
  4. Build and coach a team to effectively achieve that vision.

Leadership involves great leadership skills and attributes needed to do the above tasks. As we move forward, we’re going to see each element in-depth. 

  1. Creating Inspirational Future Vision

In every business, a vision is something realistic, attractive, and convincing portrayal of where you see your people and organization in the future. It is a vision that provides the right direction and sets priorities so you can tell what you have achieved is something you wanted to achieve. 

Therefore, when creating a vision, a leader keeps the organization’s strengths in mind and uses tools such as SWOT Analysis, Core Competence Analysis, USP Analysis, PEST Analysis, and Porter’s Five Forces to examine their status quo. 

They think about the likely behaviors of their competitors and the scope of their industry. Then, they figure out how they can get the leverage to successfully shape their strategies and business according to the needs of the future marketplace. They also assess key risks involved using Scenario Analysis. 

For these reasons, we can say that leadership is proactive because it requires a sense of urgency and problem-solving.

Once leaders develop their vision, they must make it more and more convincing and compelling for the people being led. In other words, leaders make their people see, understand, feel, and embrace their vision.

  1. Motivating and Inspiring People

An inspiring vision provides the necessary base for leadership. However, it is the leader’s ability to inspire and motivate people to deliver that vision. 

Leaders seem to have lots of enthusiasm for a new project at the beginning and they can easily motivate others to win their support for the project. 

However, as time passes, their enthusiasm seems to fade away and they face difficulty keeping their people motivated and inspired throughout the process. Leaders have to work hard from the beginning till the completion of the project in order to connect the vision with the individual needs and aspirations of the people. 

Here, leaders use the Expectancy Theory to connect two different expectations. Those expectations are:

  1. Hard work brings good results.
  2. Good results bring attractive incentives and rewards.

Leaders can keep their people motivated with these expectations.

  1. Managing Good Delivery of the Vision

Leaders must have great management skills to ensure that all the work required to deliver their vision is perfectly managed. 

To ensure that, leaders need to provide people with their performance goals that are connected with the vision. In addition to that, leaders need to ensure that all necessary changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented to deliver the vision. Here good management kicks in!

  1. Building and Coaching a Team to Achieve the Vision

Training a team in order to achieve goals is crucial. Leaders must first learn team dynamics to develop a team. 

Then they need to ensure their team members are equipped with essential skills, tools, and capabilities to perform the tasks and achieve the vision. 

Leaders must give and receive feedback frequently and train their people to enhance both individual and team performances. Great leaders also keep looking for leadership potential in others and create an ideal environment where they can enjoy lasting success. 

Leadership Skills / What Do Leaders Do?

Effective leadership is an outcome of some skills, qualities, and attributes. Different leaders have different strengths, challenges, and makeups. 

However, there are some traits that act as a core of leadership. These qualities are what all effective leaders share commonly. 

It may take a lifetime to develop all essential leadership skills. But start with the following attributes and as your leadership grows, you can add more traits that fit in. Spy on your progress from time to time so you can figure out how to keep improving!

So, what is leadership? Here are some skills and attributes that are essential to effective leadership:

  • Define Tasks

Always express your ideas clearly and coherently. You need to trust your people once they have defined tasks with clarity. Don’t micromanage the brilliant people you have hired! Give them full autonomy and let them excel at their job!

  • Clarity of Purpose

Great leaders not only pursue their goals themselves but also inspire others to follow the same. Since success requires clarity and singleness of the purpose. The best leaders are the ones who show people that their decisions are in line with the organization’s ethics, targets, goals, and vision. 

  • Act Decisively

Great leaders always keep vacillation and stagnation at bay. They know how to keep others motivated to move forward on their tasks while also being adaptable to new information and changes. 

  • Focus on Goals

Know what leaders do always to keep their vision at the forefront. They stay focused and keep moving towards their vision and goals. They commit everything they do to excellence. So, always stay focused if you want to become a successful leader!

  • Have a Positive Attitude

Leaders need to have a positive attitude to get power over circumstances. A positive attitude acts as a catalyst in fueling extraordinary outcomes. It brings a chain of positive events and thoughts.

Great leaders know how to take over emotions for good. They understand that it’s our choice whether to foster negativity within us or not. 

  • Display Confidence

Great leaders always act confidently while taking on new challenges, changes, roles, and projects. They know how to lead people with confidence. 

They don’t fear any circumstances and never lose nerves. For that reason, people being led truly respect them and rely on their leadership.

  • Demonstrate Accountability

Well, we all know, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Great leaders are those who understand that mistakes and failures always come our way so they hold themselves fully accountable for their mistakes. 

They also take responsibility for their team’s mistakes. And it’s no exaggeration that the minute you hold yourself accountable for everything is the minute you can modify anything. 

  • Are Solution-Oriented

Since every business, industry, and market deal with its own challenges and problems; great leaders always focus on solutions.

Never do they blame others for their failures. In tough situations, when things don’t seem to work out, they focus on the tasks at hand. They do whatever it takes to keep moving forward. That’s all about great leadership. 

  • Cultivate Humility

As a leader, you must always watch out for what do leaders do? Great leaders simply think of themselves as other humans so they don’t hesitate to admit their flaws and failings. 

They understand that “to err is human”. Being humble doesn’t mean that you need to hide your achievements and accomplishments but to admit your faults is actually humane. So never be shy and embrace your deficiencies!

  • Invite Honest Feedback

Great leaders define leadership with their deeds and not with words

One of them is that they always welcome feedback, ideas, and suggestions from people being led. They also accept disagreements openly. They understand the power of speaking up to bring positive contributions. 

They accept people for who they are. They appreciate and respect the unique perspectives of their followers. They don’t even shy about being led by them when it comes to achieving good performance and value for the organization. 

  • Take Risks

Keep in mind, that great leaders always follow their deepest instincts regardless of the fear of bad consequences. 

They understand that being creative means making mistakes, experimenting, growing, inventing, and moving others forward. So, they feel no hesitancy in embracing new ventures from time to time. 

  • Encourage Effective Communication

A leader must be open to communication with every member of the organization from senior management to down the hierarchy. Effective communication is one of the key attributes only great leaders must have. 

  • Engage in Avid Listening

Great leaders don’t only hear but they actually listen to what others are saying. Not only do they listen to them but also try to consider others’ perspectives too. To be an avid listener is one of the most important traits a leader must possess or develop. 

  • Are Appreciative

It’s important to appreciate your team more often than not. Realize, without your people, you could do nothing! 

So, whenever an employee performs well, acknowledge him in front of others. In addition to that, offer rewards and recognitions for the people who leave no stone unturned in achieving your vision and goals. 

Also, you can offer opportunities to customers and clients for positive role modelling and reinforcement. That’s all worth it!

  • Are Role Models

If you ask great leaders what is leadership? They tell you to become a great role model for the people being led. 

You need to understand that to achieve greatness, you have to first seek it in yourself. Try to align your words with your deeds. Only this way you can become a role model for your people. Since leadership is all about motivating others to contribute. 

  • Are Never Self-Serving

Great leaders define leadership with their actions. They’re never self-serving or selfish. They don’t consider their personal likes and dislikes. 

Rather, whatever they say and do is always in the best interest of the organization. They never let their own interests interrupt the company’s vision. 

  • Motivate Others

Engage your team, not only physically and mentally, but spiritually as well! Try to win their hearts! 

Great leaders understand that true success is about inspiring others. So, you must always motivate your people to perform well in all situations.

  • Are Intuitive

Effective leadership calls for listening to your inner voice. So always trust your intuition! You need to trust that your intuition will always be there to guide you through difficult times and challenges. When in doubt, listen to your personal calling! Just embrace it and set yourself free!

  • Possess Foresight

Even in the most questionable times, great leaders have the foresight to keep moving forward. They dare themselves and others to seek new directions. They take full responsibility for all failures and mistakes and never turn their back on. They realize the vision and rise up every time they fall. 

  • Led by Followers

You may not believe it but one of the most effective leadership qualities a leader must possess is learning to be led by your followers

Yes, learn to follow your people’s perspective! You should be open to the extent to which any team members from senior management to down the hierarchy come up to share their unique ideas with you. 

Great leaders never hesitate to follow the right directions coming from anyone as long as they are in everyone’s best interest. 

  • Are Determined

Effective leaders define leadership, not in words but in actions. They overcome any obstacles that stand in their way but never quit. 

They embrace even the worst times but never resign. They only quit those habits and attributes that come in their way of becoming the best leader possible. Yes, that’s it!

  • Make Tough Decisions

You must have the ability to make prompt, difficult decisions. Great leaders always keep in mind what they’re trying to achieve when facing a difficult decision. 

They consider the possible consequences of their decision and look for available alternatives. 

After making the final decision, they take complete responsibility for them as well as follow through with them. By being a confident and resolute decision-maker, you can allow yourself to capitalize on prospects as well as earn the trust and respect of your team. 

What is Leadership? Who’s a True Leader?

There’s no single leadership definition one can define leadership with. Since the advent of time, there have been countless leaders throughout history who led masses but were destructive and inhuman. In my mind, with such merciless attributes, one can never deserve to be called a leader. 

Leadership isn’t just about leading people but also about making positive impacts on them. A true leader always tries to move his people forward to achieve a great vision. 

A leader needs to be empathetic. He needs to connect with the team members to be successful. He doesn’t follow the same path made by his predecessors but carves his own ways. He doesn’t need to have a common background with other leaders of the past. He’s actually more diverse and brings a variety of unique perspectives. This is my way of defining leadership.