Leadership is an issue which has an impact on everyone. This is because everyone exercises leadership one way or another. Most people associate leadership with a mass or a large group of people and thus are under the impression that not everyone is a leader. But the fact is that everyone leads, and thus is a leader. In everyday life, people take upon many leadership roles. They lead a business, a family, a group or even a discussion. They call over friends and organize dinner parties. They guide their children and groom them. The daily activities of any given person demand some element of leadership. Thus, the first thing that should be clear to all is that everyone is a leader. Those who lead them, in turn, are leaders of leaders.

In addition to broadening our understanding of leadership, realizing that everyone is a leader magnifies the importance of it. Am I a leader? Why am I a leader? Am I an effective leader? These are questions that everyone should ask of themselves and do a bit of research to find out the answers. Why? Simply because everyone has to play the role of a leader everyday and learning how to be effective in this area is a way of enhancing and improving the quality of living. Now that we have already answered the first two questions let us see how we can become an effective leader.

Leadership skills

The first thing that an effective leader has to be is a good communicator. A good leader needs to listen and respond to others. The leader needs to show what is required and how it is to be done. An effective leader must realize the basic fact that his/her followers might have better ideas. These ideas must be listened to and implemented if feasible. Leadership roles demand much more than just being the “chief”.

An effective leader also needs to delegate and not take control of everything. One is NOT an effective leader if he/she does not delegate. Delegation helps in achieving the basic of management: “Getting thins done effectively and efficiently”. The delegation also helps in motivating the followers as it makes them feel that the leaders trust them. But delegating does not mean that the leader assigns jobs to the followers and checks on them all the time. Delegation should be done such that the leader finds the trusted employees and assigns them suitable tasks so that the leader feels no need to check on them constantly.

Leaders need to let go of their ‘perfectionist’ attitude of believing that if something needs to be done, then he/she himself/herself is the one who should do it. Leaders don’t need to be perfect. They are only human and are hence likely to make mistakes. But the leader needs to figure out ways to solve the problem and move ahead. And just like the leader, the followers are also human and are equally likely to make mistakes. The leader must be aware of this fact and help the followers learn from mistakes and always provide adequate support in this learning phase.

A vital quality that a leader should have is the capability to understand and realize that everyone (followers) is different. All of them are unique in that they come from different cultures, follow different religions and have a different set of values. The leaders should not, thus, expect the followers to feel the same way that he/she does about certain things. Leaders should respect the beliefs and values of their followers.

Leaders should also invest and look into the growth of the followers as when the followers grow, the leader himself/herself is pushed to the top. Followers also look for security in leaders. The leaders are their voice, and they expect the leaders to protect them from outside threats.

In the world today, leaders need to take up unconventional roles. As we can see, leadership is not only about commands. It is much more than that. It is about listening, delegating, counselling, trusting the followers and earning their trust and respect in return. It is about understanding the group, respecting the shared values and meanings and moving together towards a common goal.

—The End —

International Youth Summer School 2005

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