Let’s think of a car as a group of people with common interests and mutual goals. There is the person in the driver’s seat. That person has to be the leader. That person has to be in charge, and has to be held responsible in case of accidents. The driver is accountable for the safety of the other passengers. Then, there is the person who sits next to the driver. This person could again be a follower or a leader. Those who are in the back seat enjoying the ride, but putting in less or no effort, are often known as social loafers. But in case of constructive input, we treat them as followers.
Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Howard Schultz were not just CEO’s of big businesses but they were leaders who built their companies, bought them up like how one brings up his offspring. The success stories of these three large enterprises i.e. Apple, Virgin Atlantic and Starbucks, rests on the shoulders of these leaders.
But when it comes to your organization are you a leader or a follower? It’s like asking kids if they want to be the super hero or the sidekick. Obviously everyone wants to be the superhero. Likewise, anyone can be a follower but you need a skill set to become a leader.
Leaders are keen to do anything and everything not only to change themselves, but to change those who follow them. They have an aim, a vision, a path. But most of all, they have the will.
When there is a will there, is a way. Like water, these leaders carve their own path and lead their followers to their destinations. The reward of what is achieved is distributed amongst the leader and all the followers.
Leaders Are Made Not Born
A general misconception that I would like to clear here is that leaders are born. We are all born alike. Our DNA does not determine how we treat people or how we think or what we believe. It doesn’t even determine what we stand for. How we think and what we are in terms of personality is determined by the way we are raised. And more so on how we perceive ourselves. Therefore, leaders are made, not born.
The Role of Self Perception
Self perception plays a major role in determining whether or not a person is capable of being a leader or not. A leader who thinks he’s perfect in every aspect is not exactly a perfect fit for that role. On the other hand, someone with a low self perception is also incapable of performing the role. It has to be someone looking for improvement, and yet be confident enough to overcome his weaknesses and learn from his past. He should be capable of stepping forward and taking responsibility and yet be able to delegate it.
You too can become a leader. Chances are, you already have the qualities to become one. Like it was mentioned earlier, leaders are not born they made. And with some help, you can become one too. You just need a little bit of polishing and you’ll be good to go and be ready to lead!
Ever wondered if everyone was to become a leader, who would follow them? Without followers, there would be no leaders. I mean come on! While the super hero is busy saving the world, it’s the sidekick who saves his sorry behind, who is not appreciated for his efforts, and who is made fun of. In some cases, the sidekicks are mistreated to the point where they flip and become the bad guy.
That is why it is really important to keep the sidekick happy. Likewise, it is essential to keep the follower, subordinates, and coworkers motivated and in high spirit. There is no ‘I’ in the word team. There is no ‘me’ in the word ‘leader’. Lead by example and inspire them. You should know what you are aiming for. Stay focused and delegate to your followers achievable, yet challenging goals. Appreciate them for their efforts. Motivate them so that they can motivate their teams. It’s the trickle- down effect that delivers the best results. Remember, a leader is recognized by his followers.
The Tough Part: Choices and Chances
Decision making skills are to be mastered by leaders. Before taking a decision, think it through, but once you have taken the decision, stand by it firmly. It takes courage to make some decisions. A lot of risks are involved. But a leader has to face all risks, much like the captain of a ship. If the ship goes down, the captain goes down with it. Remember a simple business rule, the higher the risks, the higher the profit. If you make a mistake, accept it like a leader. Leaders learn from their mistakes and move forward.
Listen Like a Leader
Leaders are good listeners. It may sound like a very minor thing but there is a huge difference between a leader and a dictator. Learn to listen to your subordinates and co-workers and give them credit for their ideas and appreciate them for their input. You will earn more respect and loyalty by doing so.
Learning to Face the Music
Remember with great power comes great responsibility. It takes courage to accept your mistakes. Recognizing your mistakes, accepting responsibility for them, learning from them, and improving, doesn’t only make you a better leader but it makes you a better person. Analyze yourself. Always try to be better than who you are. Accept constructive criticism.
Polishing Communication Skills
The importance of communication skills cannot be over–emphasized. It’s always those people who can inspire others through their words who become leaders. You do it by motivating them to be better. You do it by conveying and communicating your goals. It’s your charisma that makes people follow you. Public speaking courses, and practicing in front of a mirror, can help you develop these vital skills.
Are you ready to be a leader? As a leader, a lot is expected from you. People will look up to you. You should be dependable. A dependable person is a person who is trusted and honored and respected. Becoming a leader is not rocket science. It’s simple, yet complicated – but you’ll get there.