The term Leadership is thrown around a little too much in today’s business world of corporate jargon and buzzwords, but the concept of leadership transcends the superficial ideals that sometimes accompany the corporate environment. Simply being in a position where others directly report to you does not qualify you as a leader. There are many managers and supervisors in the world, but few can be called leaders. Leadership for Dummies is just a quick reminder of what it actually takes to be a leader.
As a leader, you are living by example, continuously improving your own education, maturity, and awareness, so that others can observe your successes. I’m sure you can think of a time where you had to report to someone with a drama-filled, disaster of a life. They may have tried to tell you to be more like them, which many managers and supervisors try to do. You may have thought that they were nuts for trying to inspire you when it was transparent that they had none of the skills that they were trying to push on you. I would call this type of management ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’
Being a hypocrite is not a requirement for leadership. You have to lead by example. If you desire a certain behavior from someone who reports to you, you must be able to show that behavior. A leader shouldn't be dishonest, sneaky, or participate in gossip and negative conversations.
Leadership involves a natural desire to inspire others to reach their goals. A leader is a coach and a mentor. I recently spoke with a superintendent of a large public school district in Michigan. I was inquiring about what it takes to be a principal in his district. I was not surprised that many of his principals were former teachers. This makes sense because teachers tend to enter the profession in order to shape lives, a natural trait of a leader. What shocked me was the fact that many principals had been coaches. They may have been gym teachers who also coached teams or they just coached teams in addition to their academic teaching.
We think of leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. or Bill Gates, and we think that they must have been born to be natural leaders. They would never have needed Leadership for Dummies. While some people are natural leaders, I do not believe that you have to be born with a certain disposition in order to be an effective leader. It starts with your own personal growth, the desire for others to succeed, and knowing how to encourage, support, and mentor others to do so. It is important, whatever field you work in, that you have mastered the subject matter. It is one thing to admit that you do not know an answer when asked, but to have little or no knowledge of what your employees do on a daily basis is discouraging to them, and belittles your ability to lead.
Ultimately, if you pay attention to how you can help people succeed, continuously improve yourself, and constantly encourage others to do their best, you will succeed as a leader.