Is There a Recipe for Leadership? Print
Written by Husen   
Saturday, 12 January 2008 16:44

“The Five Secrets of Successful Leaders”

“Ten Essential Tips for Leadership; follow them and people will follow you”

“How to Become a Great Leader”

“The Recipe for Successful Leadership”

In the National Library of Quebec, over half of the books in the leadership section carry titles similar to the ones listed above, and in their introduction, these books deliver a promise that by following the tips, or implementing the habits and strategies that are advised in the book you can verily become the next Jack Welch, or Steve Jobs. But is it true that every Dick, Tom and Harry can become great leaders if given the right recipe?

Is it possible to become a leader in a matter of days or hours, required to read a book? Is it a question of skills and tips that we are missing, and if acquired we can become prominent leaders? Is there a magic pill, or an instant solution?

 

It is too simplistic to say that leadership is a set of skills and strategies that can be developed and applied. Leadership requires skills to be effective, such as public speaking skills, managerial skills, interpersonal communication skills, and so on. However, these skills are not leadership itself. Leadership is about personal qualities. These qualities are deeply embedded in a leader’s personality. Leadership qualities must manifest themselves in the subconscious of the leader; they are not something s/he does deliberately. Does this mean that leaders are either born leaders or they will never be? Of course, not. As human beings we have the amazing ability to change ourselves as we wish. We can change almost everything about ourselves; our appearance, our habits, and even our internal values and character traits. So only through this radical change can a person develop or discover her/his inner leader. This process of change requires patience, determination, and a high degree of self-control, so you must be willing to pay the price. So, to become a leader what should you change and why?

To be a leader who can direct people towards positive change, there are two components:

  1. To be able to motivate people to follow you in a particular direction.
  2. To be effectively goal oriented.

 

To be able to muster people and direct them, a leader needs many qualities. The first word that probably comes to mind when leadership is mentioned is charisma. That is personal magnetism or attractiveness to others. Charisma is how most leaders are able to gather people around them. This requires qualities such as assertiveness, emotional intelligence, and compassion. These will then be improved by skills such as public speaking skills, and interpersonal skills, but the skills can achieve little without the core. Emotional intelligence refers to have the proper emotional responses at the most appropriate time. However these emotions cannot be faked. In other words you cannot study to become emotionally intelligent. Trying to fake the socially appropriate emotion most often gives negative results because most people will sense the pretentiousness. The most important attraction to a leader is to find that s/he is sincerely interested in your wellbeing. People are attracted to what has benefit for them. So the leader must demonstrate that through sincere compassion for others and developing genuine relationships with people.

 

The second very important element to fulfill the first component is persuasiveness; this requires candour, knowledge, and thoughtfulness. If the leader does not manifest a high degree of honesty, and consistency with what he/she says or calls for, few people would be willing to listen to them. Persuasiveness also requires someone who is knowledgeable and intelligent to be able to convince the logic of cynics. Creativity is very important in motivation because people need to see a vivid picture of the vision; this picture has to be very glamorous and even seductive. That is why a good leader must be creative in imagining the future and delivering it to people to provide constant motivation for the followers. This creativity requires a leader to be thoughtful and contemplative. These qualities can be more effective when coupled with good creative writing skills or good language skills and others.

 

The other component of leadership is being effectively goal oriented. What I mean by being effectively goal oriented is not to just have a goal to follow, but have the endurance to get there as well. This requires first and foremost developing a clear goal, which is the essence of leadership; providing direction to people through goal and purpose. This goal and purpose must spring out of the core values of a leader. They must deeply believe in the validity of the purpose and the importance of the goal.

 

Being effectively goal oriented requires specific character traits such as commitment, flexibility, and optimism. Commitment comes from the strength of the core values of the leader, and the belief in the importance of what s/he is doing. A good leader must be the most committed person to the goal because the degree of commitment of the group is dependant on the degree of commitment of the leader. A leader must also be flexible and able to see and consider alternatives at any point in time. Rigidity is usually the main cause of failure in times of crisis. If the leader is not able to adapt to change they are compromising their goal, while a flexible leader will take any route possible to get to the goal without compromise. Finally a leader has to be truly optimistic at all times, believing in the long-term profitability of what they are currently doing, and believing that success is inevitable with hard work and determination.

 

It must not be understood that I am belittling the skills and tactics required for leadership or condemning them to be useless. In fact they are essential to put the qualities of a leader into action and give desired results. I liken the skills to the fuel that is necessary to make a car run, but the personal qualities of a leader are the engine itself, without which a car cannot be in the first place.

This model I have provided is not a complete model for leadership and needs a lot of elaboration but I have simply highlighted what I think are the most important character-traits of a leader. It is difficult yet possible to ingrain these character-traits in oneself. Therefore I again agree that leaders are not necessarily born leaders but they worked hard at it.

 

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 January 2008 13:20 )