Friday, October 23, 2015

The Art of Leadership

If you only had one word to describe leadership what would it be? “Art.”  

A leader is one who adopts or discovers a purpose worth following with a vision and plan to achieve such purpose that others are inspired to adopt as well. Many people look so hard for a set of teachable skills and mimic-able characteristics to become a leader when it is much more simple. But leaders are both nature and nurtured. How can you imitate the leadership characteristics of vision, character, integrity, empathy, focus, consistency, endurance, and how do you encapsulate the leadership practices like inspiring, planning, coordinating, supporting, mentoring, coaching and counseling in one word? Or to put simply, does leadership really have golden rules or magic formulas?

If you only had one word to describe leadership what would it be? “Art.” A part of that "art" as a leader in the process of helping others grow and become leaders themselves is walking the fine line of giving someone enough rope to learn their own way of doing. Leadership is certainly a combination of being and having. "Being" equals the inside potential traits, character, behaviors, intensity and energy. "Having" means the outside accomplishments, it consists of the measurement of the impact on others. Being and doing are like parts of a virtuous circle, better actions improve our self-perception - self-esteem and congruence towards our core values -, the latter having an impact on our actions, etc.

The key in the area of leadership is the purpose. To be a leader, one must be willing to follow their purpose with or without followers. They become a leader when others voluntarily choose to adopt that same purpose and expend their efforts under the guidance and direction of the leader. Faith in the leader's vision and the shared purpose are their drivers. The leader must have faith in themselves and the purpose...but they must "Do" to gain the faith and trust of those that follow. And they must continue to "Do" to maintain that faith and trust. People achieve a level of some form of leadership because they are aware of it. You achieve a level of awareness that leads you to become a leader or a chosen one. Awareness brings out courage, intuition, bravery, etc. When you say to yourself that "I am a leader," and follow through with it, that is when you become AWARE of your conviction to take on a leadership position.

There is no leadership where there is no responsibility. Responsibility is the burden of leadership. It doesn't matter at what level one is leading: home, work unit, team, department, small establishment, mega-corporation, nation. Leaders at these levels are decidedly different and are held to a different magnitude of expectations. But the common denominator to each and every one of them all is the responsibility they carry. They are always adjusted successfully where they carry out the responsibility well, and they are roundly condemned as failures where they fail to perform the responsibility.
-Vision: Inspiring people to want to go on the journey of change or transformation.Leadership is more visible (and, frankly, more necessary) in periods of change. Management takes over in stable and constant periods.
-Guide: Help people to change and be an example to them.
-Meaningfulness: Helping others to feel useful.
-Guidance: Set direction to have others follow through.
-Coaching: Helping people to make the change journey!

To try to find a single word that communicates leadership philosophy is impossible. Leadership is about Future and Change; leadership is about direction and dedication; leadership is about influence and innovation. If there are golden rules, here is a set of them:
-|Display excellent strategic vision | feel the passion for the thing is doing |Critical Thinking | Create great teams | accept other’s opinions to improve | | give the credit to the team or to each one, or both | evaluate and take correction actions | Reduce Ambiguity and uncertainty | Lead by example | Open to criticism | Asking right questions | Not stuck in corporate bureaucracy | Sense of Urgency | Part of the solution, not part of the problem | Not comfortable with the status quo | Empathetic engagement | Engaged | Mentor | Recognize and value differences | Be willing to give up power, knowledge, information, wisdom | | Encouragement | Discipline | Balance | proactive and reactive forces | Emotional Intelligence |


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