01st of October, 2018
“Leaders are not born, they are made.
And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.
And that is the price we will have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.” Vince Lombardi
Leadership has been established as a purely business phenomenon particularly suited to high-ranking persons holding managerial positions in a business. However, I strongly believe that there are many of us who have encountered an inspiring leader who had nothing to do with business. This person could have been a teacher, a seafarer, a politician, a pilot, an officer in the armed forces, a coach, a technician or even a cleaning lady. Therefore, leadership as a term should not be related only with a person or a group of people in a high position.
Leadership is not just one quality, but rather a blend of many qualities; and while not one individual possesses all of the needed talents and elements that make up leadership, each person has the capacity to develop a combination in order to become a leader. More specifically, leadership attributes are the inner or personal qualities that include a large array of characteristics such as values, character, motives, habits, traits, style, behaviours, skills and attitude. And leaders have a strong ‘attitude’; they have ‘a point of view’; they challenge current expectations; they adapt never adopt and everything is judged according to their inner vision and perspective. After all, the way we act in the outer world is profoundly influenced by what we are within our deepest selves. It is a trait found in our human nature; everything starts and ends within.
It is important to emphasize at this point, that the role of a leader is to inspire and create more leaders, not more followers. Acting beyond “us” (the leaders) and “them” (the followers) has been humanity’s universal tendency to divide the world into opposing sides. The pronouns “us” and “them,” which appear in some form in every language on Earth, symbolize this human inclination to create tensions and conflicts. To be able to facilitate the unleashing of human capital and to leverage the richness in human diversity, leaders need to understand their own personality, skills and culture and that of others. They need to recognize roles, and have an acute appreciation for the culture-strategy dichotomy. This is the ideal framework of becoming leaders who build bridges rather than walls.
Leadership does not appeal to a specific person or a position; it is a choice. You can identify leadership skills in a mother dealing everyday with households, a nurse, a taxi driver, or even a babysitter. It is a complex moral relationship between people, based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision of the good.
We could define leadership as a form of art; an art that combines the human liberal thinking with the self-disciplined acting. Leadership can inspire people to think and act independently together. The cultivation of individual leadership to a group effort is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. In other words, the achievements within a group are the results of the combined leadership skills of each individual.
A great leader is remembered for his or her charisma, which means “divinely inspired gift” in Greek. Charismatic leaders have profound effects. Through their exceptional inspirational and verbal ability, they articulate ideological goals and missions, communicate with passion and inspiration, set an example in their own behaviours, and demand hard work and commitment, above and beyond normal expectation.
We must all realize that we are capable to play this significant role of a leader and improve conditions, innovate, ask what and why, focus on people, inspire and allow ourselves to be inspired, challenge the status-quo, have an eye on the horizon, originate and be our own self. However, we should recognize that what we know is very little in comparison to what we still need to learn. This continuous learning process can be exercised, in particular, through engaging oneself in a constant dialogue starting within and then with others and finally supply a shared vision and inspire people around to achieve more than they may ever have dreamed possible. People change when they are emotionally engaged and committed.
Even in business, we don’t need static giant personalities to transform companies. We need leaders who built not their own egos but the companies they work for, no matter the role they execute or how low they are in the hierarchy. We need leaders with high interpersonal skills such as empathy, honesty and integrity, leaders with active listening, with insight into people and sincere interest in people’s potential, patience towards people, concern for welfare of people, satisfaction in helping others grow and develop a better –leader- self.
There are people that prefer the safety of their comfort zone. It is their choice to remain passive, to sit back and complain, and to focus on what others should have done rather than what they themselves could have done. Leaders don’t have time to play the blame-game. Instead, they look for opportunities to take initiative and take action. There is always something they could be doing to influence the outcome, no matter their financial, social or business status.
We are wonderful and gifted human beings; we pursue challenge, we search out to do something significant, we are eager to help. We are willing to give our best effort to those who notice and consider us leaders not followers. But, we should be patient and faithful; even if other people can’t see the light through your vision, make them feel the heat of your actions. That is what leading all about. Gandhi put it in the right words: “We must be the change we wish to see in the world” and this change can only occur through leaders. Start acting like one; this will be the most rebellious and liberal path to your life success.