The search for the characteristics or traits of leaders has been ongoing for centuries. Yet, defining leadership has been challenging and definitions can vary depending on the situation. Here are a few:
- We have conceived of leadership… as the tapping of existence and potential motive and power basis of followers by leaders, for the purpose of achieving an intended change…
- Though leadership may be hard to define, the one characteristic common to all leaders is their ability to make things happen…
- Leadership can be defined as the will to control events, the understanding to chart a course and the power to get a job done, cooperatively using the skill and abilities of other people…
- Leadership is the ability to get men and women to do what they don’t want to do or like to do…
- Leadership appears to be the art of getting others to want to do something you are convinced should be done…
The world is evolving at every second. Everything is being touched by this accelerated pace of change. No person, entity, industry, profession, and no part of the world or any business can escape the relentless pull of the future into the present moment.
Business leaders need to chart an effective course into the future even though they don’t have a clue what their organizations will look like tomorrow let alone next year. Many business leaders are mired down in philosophies, strategies and approaches that were the standards held years ago when the rules and the world were more predictable.
The rules are changing – and the rules that are determining the rules are changing.
We are living in a crazy, frenzied time in history. The roller coaster left the starting point several years ago and it is poised for yet another rapid decent – challenging what we know, believe, feel and have forecasted. The smooth ride of the past is nothing more than a distant memory for most of us. Never again will we know what is around the next corner or where or how the ride will end.
How, then, can today’s executive, business owner and manager predict what their vision of what tomorrow will look like with any degree of accuracy? It’s anybody’s guess what the next several years will create, manifest, modify, re-define or even destroy. What you can do is: stay loose, flexible, positive and optimistic. What you want to avoid is: remaining stuck in yesterday’s paradigms, attitudes, philosophies and strategies.
What are some of the specific things to avoid as we move into the future?
- Believing that what worked last year or yesterday will work today or tomorrow.
- Thinking that what you thought yesterday about the future will come to pass.
- Status-quo thinking.
- Conventional wisdom or thinking.
- Using yesterday’s results as a benchmark for tomorrow.
- Refusing to think out of the box.
Spend some time considering how all of this is impacting your ability to manage successfully.
Let’s close things up with what eight of the most common leadership myths:
To lead you have to have followers. Leadership does not imply that you have to be in front of a group. If you are the only person working in a department you can still demonstrate leadership attitudes.
You can study your way to effective leadership. You can attend hundreds of leadership seminars, retreats, programs, and read all of the books on leadership — even pay for leadership coaching. Unless you are willing to let go of some of your beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, opinions or paradigms you can have all of the leadership knowledge in the world and still fail as a leader. Just look around you! This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t receive leadership training, but it does mean that education is not enough, it takes wisdom, understanding and execution.
That to be a leader you have to be in charge of something or someone. Leadership is not position. You can be the receptionist and have a leadership attitude about your roles and responsibilities. You can be in sales and have a leadership style and mindset.
You have to be a senior citizen with gray hair to be an effective leader. I know many executives who are still in their twenties and are model leaders.
Tenure or longevity equates to effective leadership capabilities. Just because you may have been with your organization for over thirty years does not mean you are an effective leader. Any success you might have had could have been timing, luck, pure effort, will or any combination of these.
Position or title equates to leadership. Just because you may be the CEO, President or top executive does not mean you have leadership attitudes or skills. There are a lot of executives running organizations today that I would not classify as good or even acceptable leaders.
Leaders have to be willing to do any task that any of your employees are asked to do. Sure if the floor is dirty and the Janitor is sick and not at work someone needs to sweep the floor. But is it really your responsibility to show your employees that you are not above this task? Your employees want a leader they can respect and trust not a back-up for the janitorial staff.
Leadership is an endowment or an education process. Leadership, trust, respect and confidence are earned and not a set of mastered skill sets.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.