How Do We Define Leadership?
The qualities that define leadership are many and perhaps as different as are the people who attempt to define them. However true leadership stands out when times get to the point that things are not necessarily going so well. A true leader will be able to have the vision beyond the normal view. The capabilities to bring an organization or group to the point of comprehending the vision and buying into it are the mark of a leader.
People will follow somebody when they feel it is to their advantage to do so. The old saying says, “If you think that you are a leader, look behind you and make sure that there is someone following you.” While this may be true, people may not always follow a leader at first.
Winston Churchill was not wildly popular as a politician before he was made Prime Minister of Great Britain before World War II, but his perception of Nazi Germany was correct, even when, before the war, it was an unpopular one. His steadfast leadership and inspirational courage led Great Britain and later influenced the United States in one of the more honorable and brave stands in history.
Leadership seems to have the quality of being able to see the big picture, yet also having the ability to break down the larger image into smaller, more manageable parts in order to solve the problems and manage the results more effectively.
Another way to define leadership is having the ability to work with people with the result being that the best qualities of people are brought to the forefront and responsibility is shared all around. Leadership is not total control of people, but it is letting people exercise their talents and abilities in order to solve problems and move forward for the good of the whole.
Henry Ford was said to have spoken, “If I do not know how to do something, I will hire someone who does.” Ford knew quite a bit about putting together an assembly line factory. He also knew quite a bit about people and how to motivate them.
The late Steve Jobs who dazzled the IT industry with the iPad and the iPhone piloted Apple to new heights with his dynamic leadership and inspiration. When asked about his leadership style, he said, “Yes, I have had a lot of success as a business owner and entrepreneur, but I was not born a leader. I have learned leadership skills everyday as I put them to use. Leadership is not a pass or fail thing. It is what I do each and every day that determines my fate as a leader. Great leadership comes from the desire to instill the best from everyone you encounter.”
Not many people are born with leadership skills. Instead these skills are developed over time by experiencing different leadership positions, perhaps in school, and having responsibilities in business or career positions.
Many times people have leadership roles thrust upon them, and the skills are then developed in the crucible. Probably the one quality that will define leadership in any field is the ability to draw out other people’s skills and abilities in order to meet the demands necessary to do their part. Steve Jobs was correct.
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