Leadership has become a buzz word in recent years. From books like Good To Great and The Leadership Challenge to the plethora of personality tests and leadership style assessments, it seems like everyone wants to know the right way to be a leader. You can read books, take quizzes, attend seminars, and even get a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, but do any of those things make you a leader?
Leadership is a relatively new word, but it seems like it is the hot topic to write about. A quick search on Amazon.com for the word “leadership” returns 560 books that were just released in the past 30 days with another 455 more coming soon. Everyone is writing about leadership but they all have different definitions and opinions about what it is.
Is leadership a trait that one can be born with, or is it something to be learned? What are the traits that every great leader has? What are the nine steps to becoming a better leader?
These questions do not have simple answers. There is no “cookie-cutter” solution for leadership. Every situation and organization requires a unique leader. The president of Google might be great at leading his company in the realm of innovation, but he is probably not the best fit for President of the United States. In the same way, the senior pastor of Willow Creek is not the best candidate for running an Alaskan gold mine.
There are some things that a great leader must be able to do.
- A great leader must be able to lead.
- That sounds obvious, but what is a leader without followers?
- Leaders need to be able to influence people.
- A great leader must be able to connect everyone to the vision.
- Without a clear vision and direction, a leader is likely to lead in circles and never really get anywhere.
- A great leader needs to have some management skills.
- Leadership and management are two different things, but both sets of traits are required of great leaders.
- Leadership is about doing the right things. Management is about doing things the right way. Both parts are important for great leaders.
- A great leader leads a team of leaders.
- Great leaders do not do everything themselves. They get other leaders onboard with the vision and let them lead as well.
This list is not exhaustive by any means, but it is a good start to understanding some important characteristics and actions of great leaders.