What is Leadership and are Leaders Born

According to Merriam-Webster, a Leader is defined by, and I quote “1:  something that leads; such as a:  primary or terminal shoot of a plant, b:  tendon, sinew, c:  leaders:  dots or hyphens (as in an index) use to lead the eye horizontally:  ellipsis, d:  a newspaper editorial, e:  1)  something for guiding fish into a trap, 2)  a short length of material for attaching the end of a fishing line to a lure or hook, f:  loss leader, g:  something that ranks first, h:  a blank section at the beginning or end of a reel of film or recorded tape  2:  a person who leads, such as a:  a guide, conductor, b:  1)  a person who directs a military force unit, 2)  a person who has commanding authority or influence, c:  1)  the principal officer of a British political party, 2)  a party member chosen to manage party activities in a legislative body, 3)  such a party member presiding over the whole legislative body when the party constitutes a majority,  d:  1)  conductor or an orchestra’s leader, 2)  a first or principal performer of a group, 3:  a horse placed in advance of the other horses of a team.  Through this article, I will explain what a leader is, how to become one, and whether they are born or made.

A leader inspires others to carry out a mission which may include one or more tasks that will be completed by a single member or various in a respective group.  Leaders may be in the workplace, at home, or in volunteer groups. There are several things a leader must do, but the first one is to have integrity and thus do what is honest all the time, even when they may be getting tempted to look the other way by management or other team members.  C.S. Lewis made a great quote many of us know “Doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”  To be a great leader, one must decide that one will have to carry everything out with integrity.

Another skill a leader needs to have is delegation which is the know-how and when to assign tasks to other team members to accomplish the mission. Key leaders know how to establish trust early at home, the workplace, a volunteer center, etc, by using effective delegation that balances the responsibilities. The key is not just to take things off your plate but to establish how others will report to a team lead and then all those leads back to you.

All valuable leadership stars with excellent verbal and written communication; if we don’t explain the expectations and can keep consistent, constructive feedback, it will cause the bonds to break.  Thus good communication means that the leader knows how to listen, speak, verify that you understand the speaker, and communicate with a broad dichotomy of people from different backgrounds, geographies, social identities, and more. 

Leaders know that before they can lead, inspire and help others, they must first understand what makes them tick each day.  Doing this allows one to learn their strengths and understand weaknesses that need improvement.  There are four key areas of self-awareness, and they are what the public knows about you, what is not known by the people, what is not known by your or the public and is not relevant, and what is known about you by others but you don’t know about yourself or what is referred to as your blind spots.

Whether you are a leader or just living your own journey each day, the importance is more important than any words can ever show. Gratitude is the key to success in our lives, for when we are grateful for what we have, more things will show up in our life that we can be thankful for. When you are pleased with yourself, it will usually lead to a higher level of self-esteem.  Did you know that many people in the workplace hardly hear others say thank-you to them and mentioned that if their boss said thank you, they would be willing to put in more effort? I tell everyone to practice John’s ABCs of gratitude, which means to think and feel things you are grateful for twice a day for each alphabet letter.

How do you proceed if you don’t know what to do as a leader? Did you know that excellent leaders are also adaptable, quick learners? Therefore, being agile to find resources to teach you what you don’t know is essential to any project. When you don’t know something, put in the effort and find a way to learn what you need to bridge what you know to the mysterious other side with no path.

Unfortunately, influence has received negative connotations from politics and corrupt leads that don’t lead with authenticity and transparency.  Remember, influence is not manipulation but the ethical display and coaching of practices and the sharing of information to transform others into a better version of themselves.

Leaders in today’s world need to be empathetic, which means that you listen well, people want to share their challenges with you, you sense how others feel, you think how others feel, others come to you for advice, help others when they are in a challenging situation, you care deeply about others and you find it hard to set boundaries in your relationships.

Many will not go down a path that has never been traveled except by a good leader.  It is trust that many want to take the path made, lit, and traveled by others.  However, a good leader paves their path, installs their lights, and explores things for the first time.  It is funny that no one wants to board a plane on the ground or a train at the station, but several will risk their lives getting on them when moving at light speeds.  Why is this, you may ask; it’s simple.  People don’t want to do the work or take risks but want the rewards without the effort.  Thus, one of a leader’s cornerstones is to possess courage and then employ that in their team.

All leaders set out to accomplish things for themselves and their teams, but no matter what they have built or created, it means nothing if they don’t respect all humanity.  This reminds me of something we all should live by regardless of whether we want to be a great leaders: “Treat Others the way you would be Treated”; is the golden rule. 

Now that you understand what makes a leader, I’m here to tell you that leaders are not born. They are made.  True, they may have some genes that will help them become a leader quicker, but no one ascends to outstanding leadership by accident.  It takes all these skills, passion, commitment, mistakes, and resilience to get back up and do until you have succeeded.


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