Leadership is the ability to inspire or influence others towards the leader's goal. If someone has followers, he or she is a leader. Management literature mostly focuses on the characteristics of the leader - it asks "what make this person a leader", rather than "why do these people choose to follow".

Why a leader?

why are leaders essential ?

We all look to some leader to guide us or should I say we all need leaders. I am not stating in business perspective only. I mean in all senses. But why do we need them? Leaders are not different than us. They are humans as well. What have they got that has made them worth following? What have they got that they are capable of leading us and we lack. It is quite amazing sometimes to notice that a younger person leads an elderly one. “Leaders are born” has been proved a myth several times. So how are leaders made and why our society and this world need them?

Leadership is an attitude: Every person has a different mindset and different personality traits. That’s why scientists have been conducting tests and surveys to study people. Studies like hand movements, postures, hand writing, signatures have been analyzed to categorize people. One thing to notice is leadership is an attitude. You must have seen sometimes a subordinate outshines the elected leader and becomes leader himself. How? Because, he has got that attitude. He wants to be in the front. He is daring and willing to experience the heat.

Leaders encourage us to realize our real potential: A leader is not the one who is followed. He is the one who digs our hidden or forgotten potential out of us. When we see what we have done, we feel proud but we overlook how we did it. We were always capable to do it earlier, but nobody tried to bring our best out of us. A real leader does. They motivate us to expand our abilities and keep improving. It was Mahatma Gandhi, Lala Lajpat Rai etc. that inspired the Indians to fight for their freedom and make India free of British rule.

Leaders make us confident: A few team members are happy working in the back. They strive for the limelight, but they lack confidence to get in front. It’s not their work is not noticed or they are not rewarded but they are happy with that. A leader inflates these shy people with massive confidence so that they could get the due respect and recognition in the organization and the society. Leaders deliver us the mighty power of making decisions confidently.

Leaders invoke the sense of responsibility: Leaders know they would retire someday. Therefore they proactively look for their replacements. It just like some CEO retires and another arrives. Ratan Tata succeeded by Cyrus Mistry, Angela Ahrendts succeeded by Christopher Bailey, Satya Nadella replacing Steve Balmer etc. Leaders choose successors wisely so that they carry out their responsibilities later responsibly. Organizations that fail at this struggle and vanish. Even nations get into miserable situations leaving nationals stranded. Remember Iraq, Egypt and Libya?

Leaders love their subordinates grow: A few managers are always scared of their outstanding team members. They think the smarter team member would overtake them and get to higher in the ladder. This fear leads them to undermine such performers. They forget if subordinates grow, they will grow as well. Real leaders nurture their team members as their own kids. They love when someone exceeds expectations. They don’t miss an opportunity to encourage such team members and also recognise them publicly.

So, we need leaders to grow, professionally and personally. We need leaders to earn respect and be recognized. The world needs great leaders to make it a better place. Amazingly, leaders even look for leaders. May god bless all with great leaders!

Qualities of a leader?

7 qualities of a leader

1. A good leader has an exemplary character. It is of utmost importance that a leader is trustworthy to lead others. A leader needs to be trusted and be known to live their life with honesty and integrity. A good leader “walks the talk” and in doing so earns the right to have responsibility for others. True authority is born from respect for the good character and trustworthiness of the person who leads.

2. A good leader is enthusiastic about their work or cause and also about their role as leader. People will respond more openly to a person of passion and dedication. Leaders need to be able to be a source of inspiration, and be a motivator towards the required action or cause. Although the responsibilities and roles of a leader may be different, the leader needs to be seen to be part of the team working towards the goal. This kind of leader will not be afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty.

3. A good leader is confident. In order to lead and set direction a leader needs to appear confident as a person and in the leadership role. Such a person inspires confidence in others and draws out the trust and best efforts of the team to complete the task well. A leader who conveys confidence towards the proposed objective inspires the best effort from team members.

4. A leader also needs to function in an orderly and purposeful manner in situations of uncertainty. People look to the leader during times of uncertainty and unfamiliarity and find reassurance and security when the leader portrays confidence and a positive demeanor.

5. Good leaders are tolerant of ambiguity and remain calm, composed and steadfast to the main purpose. Storms, emotions, and crises come and go and a good leader takes these as part of the journey and keeps a cool head.

6. A good leader as well as keeping the main goal in focus is able to think analytically. Not only does a good leader view a situation as a whole, but is able to break it down into sub parts for closer inspection. Not only is the goal in view but a good leader can break it down into manageable steps and make progress towards it.

7. A good leader is committed to excellence. Second best does not lead to success. The good leader not only maintains high standards, but also is proactive in raising the bar in order to achieve excellence in all areas.

Dont's of a leader

5 dont's of a leader

  • Discount others' emotions and perspective — Failing leaders just don't pick up on or value other people's signals. Or, if they do, they don’t care, all demonstrating a fundamental lack of empathy. This emotional intelligence skill relates directly to social awareness. One cannot be a good leader without empathy, period.
  • Miss key organizational clues, norms, decision networks and politics — These types of "leaders" are mostly clueless and leading in name only.  They somehow landed a leadership title, most likely by accident, circumstance, timing or favoritism. They have very little emotional intelligence in terms of self-awareness and organizational awareness.
  • Blame others for outcomes — Author Jim Collins is right in asserting that great leaders look "in the mirror" when things go wrong and "out the window" applauding others when things go right.  In fact, when things go wrong, it is about the leader since that’s who is responsible for the culture and the success of their team.  Holding people accountable for their performance is important; blaming them for mistakes or failures is a non-starter.  
  • Avoid dealing with and resolving conflicts — Failing leaders avoid dealing with conflicts, fail to provide constructive feedback, and duck key relationship issues. They often think, "If I ignore it, it will go away."' Sometimes it does, but rarely.  More commonly the conflict grows exponentially until it's a toxic, smelly mess. No team can be functional without the ability to resolve their inevitable and necessary conflicts.  
  • Isolate self and/or team from others in the organization — These are the lone wolves who think they — or them and their team — can do the job better than everyone else. They believe they are in it alone, that no one understands them and that, if anyone interferes with them, it will dilute their agenda, work or image.  Failing leaders divide and try to conquer.