Position or title doesn’t make a person a leader. Being promoted, appointed or elected to a leadership position does not make one a leader. It does not guarantee that the person automatically becomes a leader.
If you were given a leadership position, it simply means that you were perceived to have potential as a leader. You still have to work your butt off to prove yourself worthy of the given title. If you are the highest person in rank, you are responsible to all those working under your leadership. If you are in the middle management, you are responsible to build a bridge between the top management and those reporting to you. If you are in the middle management, do not think that you are above those reporting to you. You need them more than they need you. You may have convinced the top management of how good a leader you are but your team’s overall performance reflects your leadership.
The main essence of a leader is influence. If you can influence your colleagues by empowering them to carry out something worthy, then you are a leader.
A good leader is a service leader, who is effective in 6 dimensions of leadership. If you think you are poor in one dimension, don’t worry. It’s not the end of the world. Everything is “learnable.” If you have an open mind, you can learn anything.
Vision and Values
As a leader, it is your responsibility to give guidance to the team as if you were holding a torch. You need to define what the team needs to achieve and how each of the members contribute to the vision. Leaders also act as role models. If you want excellent performance from your members, show them what it’s like to be excellent. Show it; don’t just say it.
A leader helps the team members accomplish tasks in order to materialize the vision. You need to set specific goals clearly because people work effectively when they know what they need to achieve.
When the members believe in the vision set by the leader, they are likely to commit themselves to contribute to the goal. Members need to be convinced the value of their contribution. In order to do that, you need to plant into the minds of the members an idea or a vision about the project. To some, persuasion is as easy as a breeze. To me, it requires practice.
You have to ensure that everyone in the team functions well. Be creative in encouraging them to participate. A leader is helpless without the support of the team. A leader is not a leader if he has no team.
A leader is a teacher, a coach and a cheerleader at the same time. He has to provide the members the right tools, provide the members a learning experience.
Humans as we are, we want affirmation and validation that we’ve done something good. To have a leader who does that, it’s more inspiring to be a good member. To have a leader who only sees the mistakes of his members is demotivating.
Being a leader is a privilege and a learning experience. If you wish to grow as a leader, you need to continuously learn how to effectively lead and influence people.
You don’t need to be a mayor or a president before you become a leader. You don’t need to be a manager before you become a leader. Anyone, even an ordinary student, a farmer, an ordinary employee, a brother or a sister, can be a leader!
Having a team that supports you is imperative in your leadership role. You need a supportive team because you can’t do everything alone. You have to delegate certain tasks to certain people. These people help you become successful in taking your tasks. You need to empower and motivate these people to contribute the best of their ability.
Reference: Toastmasters High Performance Leadership Manual
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