5 Things You Thought You Knew About Leadership

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Many books have been written about leadership, including principles, guidelines, styles, and biographies of great leaders from the past. However, there are some specific leadership concepts that we miss out on when we read books. Here’s a rundown of what you thought you already knew about leadership. 

Leaders come in different flavors.

Leaders come in various shapes and sizes. In your lifetime, you will very certainly come across more than one type. Formal leaders are individuals we elect to posts or offices, such as senators, congress members, and local club presidents. Informal leaders, such as the tribe elders or our grandparents, are people we look up to because of their wisdom and experience. It could also be because of their competence and contribution to a particular subject, such as Albert Einstein in theoretical physics and Leonardo da Vinci in the arts. Both types can practice a combination of leadership styles, which include the following

  • The three fundamental leadership styles by Lewin
  1. Authoritative
  2. Participatory
  3. Delegative
  • The four leadership styles by Likerts
  1. Exploitative authoritative
  2. Benign authoritative
  3. Consultative
  4. Participative
  • The six emotional leadership tyle by Goleman
    • Visionary
    • Coaching
    • Affiliative
    • Democratic
    • Pacesetting
    • Domineering 

Leadership can be developed. 

Although some people may appear to be born with natural leadership skills, they may not reach their full potential without the right environment and exposure. You can learn to become a leader and refine your leadership skills the same way you can ride a bicycle. Enrolling in leadership seminars, workshops, and conferences can help you learn about leadership ideas and skills. Daily encounters with others provide opportunities to observe and put leadership theories into practice. Formal and informal learning will work together to help you develop leadership attitudes and insights and continue the learning cycle. You don’t become a leader overnight and then cease. Each day brings new experiences that test your knowledge, abilities, and attitude. Thus life-long learning is critical to becoming a competent leader. 

Leadership starts with you.

Applying leadership skills to your own life is the best method to develop them. “Action speaks louder than words,” as the cliché goes. Leaders are constantly under the spotlight. Keep in mind that your actions largely determine your leadership credibility. Here are a few examples:

  • Your interactions with friends, family, and coworkers.
  • Your approach to handling personal and professional duties.
  • Even how you converse with the newspaper vendor across the street.

Repeated actions create habits. Habits, in turn, shape a person’s personality. The book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey is an excellent resource for developing personal leadership skills. 

Leadership is shared.

Leadership is a shared role among members of a growing team, not the entire responsibility of one person. A leader is a member of a group that has tasks that each member must perform. Formal leadership roles are simply extensions of his responsibilities as a team member. Effective leadership necessitates each team member to do their fair share of the task. Members and leaders work together to establish an effective team from a small group of individuals. In this light, social connection is vital in leadership. Learning to work together necessitates a high level of trust between and among leaders and members of a new team. Actions, not words, are what establish trust. Mutual respect is necessary for faith and confidence to flourish.  

Leadership style can be situational.

Why does Singapore’s dictatorship function but not in the United States of America? A nation’s current condition influences the leadership styles utilized by its formal leaders and its culture, beliefs, value system, and type of government. No rule says one type is applicable. Depending on the situation, most leaders adopt a combination of leadership styles. In emergencies such as war and disaster, decision-making is a matter of life and death. As a result, a country’s leader cannot afford to speak with all ministries before making essential choices. In times of peace and order, the situation is different: diverse sectors and branches of government can freely interact and participate in governing. 

Another example is in the field of management. When the team is highly driven and competent, a combination of high delegatory and moderate participative leadership styles is most suited. However, if the teams lack competence and dedication, organizational leaders must engage in a variety of high coaching, high supporting, and high directing conduct. 

In addition to the above list, keep in mind that there are always ideas that we think we already know, notions that we take for granted, but which are, in truth, the most significant leadership insights.  

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