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Companies are in turmoil. The economy has been through a lot of things over two presidents. There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the future with the way things are going. It is imperative that companies integrate change. It is imperative that companies invest in leadership. It is imperative that companies learn to distinguish what makes a leader from a manager.
Leadership seems like a new catch term. A catchy phrase thrown around. Like so many other “self-help business” words. But what is it exactly? What could an organization do to get more leaders? What are things that can be done in order to drive change? There is a lot to cover.
What is leadership?
Leadership is an essential element of many companies and organizations these days. Leadership is something that is becoming more commonplace. Organizations cannot stand having just managers and a traditional structure. They realize that people are an investment as well. They learn that they have to get their workers to be on top of their game to succeed and survive in a very competitive world these days. Without good vision and leadership, many companies start faltering. They start stumbling and caving. It takes times to begin thinking through some of those very components that can make a company successful. It takes a lot of hard decisions to look at what needs to be done to thrive in the upcoming economy.
But what exactly is leadership? What benefits does it bring to the table? How does leadership differ from managing?
According to Forbes, leadership is the ability to influence others towards achieving a common goal (Kruse 2013). Notice that this definition is not managing. Notice that it does not entail manipulation or negative ways to coerce others into doing something. The influence here is all positive. If it is not favorable, then it is likely destructive and will rot an organization from within.
Further on in the same article, leadership versus management is that leaders often transcend the ladder in a corporation to help guide others into a better path. It is all about the people in the process (Kruse 2013). Investing in people is the most important thing. It is helping people to become the best that they can be. Leaders are not tied to a role or any number of things that a traditional manager might have (Kruse 2013). As a result, they can lead without necessarily being a manager.
Influence is predominantly being charismatic or persuasive. Ideally, it would be both. Individuals that can use these traits are candidates that you should be looking for. However, just because they can use these, does not mean that they would be likely candidates to be a leader. Some have dark secrets. Some are incapable of leading or have no desire for that role.
Components of Leadership
With leadership defined, let’s examine some of the critical elements that go into leadership. There are several but the ones that I would like to touch upon include: Honesty/Integrity, Vision, Team Builder, and Communication Skills (Earley, 2015). Does it mean that leaders are perfect all of the time? No. They sometimes fail and lie. They sometimes create disharmony. They sometimes fail to communicate.
Leaders know that they are not perfect. They know that they fail and struggle. What makes a good leader is the willingness to keep investing and keep getting back up. It takes a lot of effort to be able to have that level of persistence. That is what contributes to a good leader, in conjunction with the aforementioned traits.
Leaders consistently try to work towards these components. They work towards their development first, before they work on others. They work on trying to become a better version of themselves. The process is never-ending. The key is that they strive for it. Leaders solicit feedback so that they can continue to grow. The leader then works on developing his or her community or organization. They takes their time towards growing individuals that are their direct reports. They invest also in ones that are not even direct reports.
When it comes to implementing leadership, there are several things that come into play. There are several things that can be done to make leadership somewhat successful, especially when an organization is rather new to it. It takes time to identify what a leader is or is not. It takes time for even experienced leaders to be able to contribute to a path of change with a failing organization.
Some of these implementations include a reflection and review process, fail forward mentality, and employee empowerment (Lepsinger 2018). There are other things that need to be incorporated but let’s start with these. Empowering employees to make decisions takes the managers out of the equation. Along with the fail forward, you might find that your employees, while they might not be successful at creating a new process, may reveal things that you need to address. These can encourage them to keep trying to make decisions and help drive change (hopefully to find better processes and ways to simplify it). Reflection and review are things that should continuously be done; it can help keep people honest.
It is important to note that there should always be a documentation process for everything. Encourage the empowered employees to invest in documenting anything, and everything that they are doing since this can be factored into reviews. This can provide an additional resource for the organization to acknowledge that there are strides being made to improve the company. That allow is worthwhile.
Keep in mind that leadership is so much more than what was presented in this particular post. It is an ever-growing field that has a lot to uncover. It has a lot to explore and discuss to become a widely established field. There are always a lot more components and ways to implement leadership. However, companies can no longer afford to delay incorporating more leadership within their ranks. Leadership is what is needed, not management.
Earley, S. (2015 March 3) 6 Key Components of Effective Leadership. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/6-key-components-effective-leadership-steve-earley
Lepsinger, R (2018 July 13). How to Implement Strategic Leadership With Your Organization. Retrieved from https://www.onpointconsultingllc.com/blog/how-to-implement-strategic-leadership-in-your-organization.
Kruse, K (2013 April 9). What is Leadership? Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2013/04/09/what-is-leadership/#1291341c5b90