Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Leadership qualities

You might wonder why we are discussing the subject of leadership once again. Leadership is a one single word but the amount of things covered under this word is enormous. The four pillars of an organization are Leadership, Management, Command and Control. They are important for every leader and manager to understand because they directly drive the organization. Used properly, the business will grow; used improperly, the business will sink which is why we discuss about the leadership once more and there will be many discussions on this subject even in the time to come.

Just because people are in leadership positions does not make them leaders. People are often placed into leadership positions well before they are ready to lead. But regardless, people will still look to them as their leader and expect them to lead them in the right direction. Certain Leaders whom I know were placed in the leadership before they were ready. The problem in this situation is that they did not have a chance to develop before they started to lead.

In my view, a leader is one who leads and his ability to influence and at the same time motivate all the people around him and to control their minds and achieve all of the desired objectives is what is meant by leadership. So, in order to lead it is very much important that one should have certain leadership qualities in him. A leader is a person who in fact walks the talk. He leads a group of people by motivating them.

As a leader, each and every word that he speaks and each and every action that he takes in fact should convey a certain message to his people. But it rarely happens in Sri Lanka. No one is a born leader.

Here again we have seen certain people as born leaders. However, this fact is often argued that leaders are always born natural and not made. Even if we take this as a truth, still one fact remains that most of the leaders learn leadership qualities over a period of time. Some of the most important qualities of a leadership are the ability to handle pressure without actually losing your focus. A good leader would always rise against the highest tide facing it boldly.

A leader would always show a much practical approach towards any problem rather than showing a simple approach and at the same time try and exhibit patience with self-belief and all the courage in the world to accept his mistakes. Believe me not much people out there ever have the courage to accept their own mistakes. A leader is a person who always needs to communicate with his people.

So a leader should have an excellent communication skill. Do you have this quality with you? They should in fact be able to link very close relationship with their people so that everyone feels more comfortable in expressing themselves in front of a leader. It is very important that a leader develops heart-to-heart relationship with all of his people.

A leader is a person who is a visionary. He should be able to see and understand the future so that it becomes an easy task to take decisions. Visionary is a quality that is usually considered as insane in its early stages but later on has the power to change the face of history. A leader should always be capable enough to take any amount of risk as gain comes with risk.

A leader should in fact not be confined to a lying shell in a comfortable corner. Or in other words he should simply not be satisfied with whatever he has achieved, as our achievements are already history.

Leader should constantly motivate himself as it would help a true leader to synchronize with the present time. It will also prepare him to face new challenges. A leader should always be honest to himself as well as to his people. Everyone has a tremendous faith in our leaders; moreover it is a common saying that preaching is easier as compared to practicing. A leader should be a man of action. So a leader is one who shows consistency not to change his stance but the stance of the masses.

There are many great leaders who lead things from small businesses to large countries. Each of those leaders had to start somewhere. Leadership starts at different stages for different people; some start learning as a small child while others may not start until adulthood.

But regardless of when they start, it is how they get there and where they finish that matters.

Leaders are ultimately responsible for developing the leaders of tomorrow. Leaders cannot be too consumed with themselves; they should be consumed with the organization and the subordinates.

The leaders will guide their organization through today, but the subordinates will guide them through tomorrow, and if leaders do not properly train their subordinates, it will ultimately lead to demise.

Just because people are in leadership positions does not make them leaders. People are often placed into leadership positions well before they are ready to lead. But regardless, people will still look to them as their leader and expect them to lead them in the right direction.

A leader whom I know was placed in the key leadership position in an organization well before he was ready. The problem in his situation is that he did not have a chance to develop before he started to lead. His development started with “on the job training.”

He spent the first three years of his career learning, fighting adversity and trying to find himself, all while he was being further developed as a leader and learning how to lead. Furthermore, he lost some of his supporting cast around him to help guide him in the right direction.

Instead of supporting him, they grew impatient and ridiculed him. With all the stress placed on him, he never quit; he kept learning. This is all good but the organization suffered a lot and as I said before organization lost plenty of associates due to the ineffective leadership of this person.

There are many ways leaders can develop subordinates’ leadership and show them how to lead. First and foremost, leaders must lead by their own example and give subordinates something to follow, because subordinates often times become a reflection of their leaders.

They try and emulate and follow in their leaders’ footsteps.

If leaders fail to properly set a good example for their subordinates, one of two things can happen. Their subordinates will become just like them and set a bad example. Or, their subordinates will not want to be like them. They just learned what not to do as a leader, which could result in them losing respect for their leaders.

To further develop subordinates, leaders must be approachable. Subordinates should be comfortable enough to be able to communicate with their leaders about anything. This is a major key to their success. This will help build trust and confidence on both sides.

Once established, your relationship will continue to grow rofessionally, which will make them more receptive to their development and eager to learn.

Leaders have to teach them what they need to do without showing them how all the time. By just teaching them, you are allowing them to think and come up with their own ideas by exercising their mind, which will result in them utilizing initiative and judgment. Keep in mind, everyone does not process things the same, so some subordinates will need more guidance, and require more attention and patience.

Leaders must be able to provide constructive criticism and twist it up and end on a positive note. When there are initiative and judgment errors, it is still the leaders’ job and responsibility to correct those errors and guide them in the right direction.

However, leaders must not cause discouragement, because subordinates may develop confidence issues and no longer want to excel. Help them understand that all leaders make mistakes, but it is what they learn and how they recover from them that matters.

Subordinates must be held accountable for their actions. Subordinates must also understand that it goes far beyond that. They are not just responsible for their actions but the actions of those they lead. I am in touch with another leader for years.

When his team makes mistakes, it was him who took the responsibility because he was the leader of the team. It was ultimately his responsibility to teach, guide, mentor and motivate while leading the team to success.

I do still remember this organization suffered a huge loss in a particular year. All what he did was to analyze the entire period, the team players and the actions to come up with a solution to help prevent it from happening again.

He always tried to find ethical ways to reach success. And after a couple of years, he managed to make it a success. That is passion. That is dedication. That is the job of a leader! These are just a few things leaders can do to develop subordinate leaders. Leaders should not be afraid to do further research to educate themselves as well as their subordinates.

No matter how good of a leader someone maybe, they should train their subordinates to be better. If they developed them properly, their legacy will live through them. And regardless if they chose to develop them or not, where they stand today is where their subordinates will stand tomorrow.

* The six most important words: “I admit I made a mistake.”

* The five most important words: “You did a good job.”

* The four most important words: “What is your opinion?”

* The three most important words: “If you please.”

* The two most important words: “Thank you,”

* The one most important word: “We”

* The least important word: “I” This is not the end of leadership. Please wait for some more write ups about the leadership in the coming weeks. Till then, try to be an effective leader.
Daily News By Lal FONSEKA