Leadership, like the weather, is much discussed by not necessary deeply understood in a useful manner. A simple Google search on the term “leadership” yields 188 million citations which suggests leadership is a topic of significant interest and importance. However it is unclear how a leader makes use of this trove of information in their daily life. This reality begs the question: “What are the essentials of leadership that a person can grasp and use routinely to generate value”?
The age old question, “Are leaders born or made”, has been debated for decades. During this debate, it was believed leadership was a birthright of genetics and little development beyond that was meaningful. Today leadership is largely considered a skill that can be developed and must be cultivated over time. The simplest evidence for this being true is everyone is a leader and only the circumstances determine what extent. This is often referred to as “Situational Leadership”.
Reflect for a moment when you were thrust into a leadership role at home, work, or in a volunteer activity. Observing a family at home one can see leadership moving among every member of the family driven by the situation. Mom leads the children, the children each other, Dad leads (and serves) everyone etc. However, under the premise of “Situational Leadership”, every leader is also a follower and the best leaders know when and how to follow effectively. Using the home example, again Dad knows when to follow Mom’s lead in dealing with a variety of situations from children to home repairs.
The simple point is that everyone must think of themselves as leaders. If we’re all leaders, and leadership roles are situational, then what behaviors are essential to effective leadership?
Personal leadership, and the accountability that comes with it, can be frightening, but also invigorating, if the leader has the correct mindset. Successful leadership, within an ethical and legal framework, is the height of human achievement because it mandates that we’ve helped others do what they couldn’t do alone for the good of all. Ultimately leadership is something everyone should embrace and aspire to because it makes us, and the world, better.
Leadership is critical to using the organization's structure to effect good decision-making. While leadership is well recognized for its criticality it’s not well understood and hence not used to yield successful outcomes. Often leaders are chosen not because they’re skilled leaders but often because they were skilled individual contributors
Basic leadership capabilities can be developed once the essential skills are recognized and a defined. The key “Leadership Essentials” are postulated to be obvious, albeit not trivial, to master.
These “Essentials” are:
Leading by example.
- Making things happen alone and through people,
- Valuing and utilizing diverseness within the workforce.
They are a plethora of additional skills beyond these essentials but in the absences of the “Leadership Essentials”, these more sophisticated skills have limited utility and longevity.