Before we start learning how to be a leader we first have to understand some background such as the what, why, who and when of leadership. It is also important to understand that not all leaders are good people or have good intentions.
In this series of articles, I will focus on leadership in business but everything discussed is about learning to be an effective leader now or in the future. You do not have to be a CEO in business to be a leader. You can be a leader in your group of friends, on the sports field, in your department, in your family.
Leadership is a process by which a person can direct, guide and influence the behaviour and work of others towards the accomplishment of specific goals in a given situation. Leadership is the ability of a manager (person) to induce the subordinates to work with confidence and zeal.
All organisations, businesses, teams and groups need effective leaders to be successful. Leaders are invaluable when it comes to formulating and communicating new strategic directions, as well as communicating with and motivating employees to increase dedication to organizational goals.
Leadership plays an important part in the success of any organisation. In the absence of effective leadership, no organisation or team can work efficiently. An organisation is created with the purpose of achieving certain objectives through a team of employees; it becomes essential to control this team of employees. It is ultimately the quality of the leadership that will determine the success of the organization or team.
Research has clearly shown that the employees utilise 60% of their capability when working without leadership. It is the responsibility of the leader to use his leadership ability to motivate his employees or team to utilize the remaining 40% of their capability.
The question often asked is “are good leaders born or made”. This is a topic that has been researched over and over and often the conclusion is that it is a bit of both. The next chapter or two is my personal opinion and by no means scientific so please feel free to form your own opinion.
There is no doubt that good DNA can play a role in one’s ability to lead. The ability to lead does require good mental capacity. I also believe early childhood influences in developing a strong personality is the foundation stone for so-called natural born leaders. For me, the start point for becoming a leader is in the individual’s personality.
People who have strong outgoing personalities (influenced by their upbringing), as opposed to people who are quiet and withdrawn, are more likely to become leaders. Now here is the catch, they might not become good leaders. They could be leading by being a bully or using the power of their position to lead people.
So this is where the second part of the question “are good leaders born or made” comes in to play. I firmly believe that all good leaders are taught. The skills to be a good leader are learned through reading, teaching and observing. I also believe that most people that have the mental capacity and are not “natural born leaders” can learn to become leaders as leadership comes in different forms and understanding your personality will allow you to pick the correct form of leadership. This will be discussed later.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy said- “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”
The writer is a Kigali Based business consultant and strategist.
This article is the first of a series on leadership by the author and will run exclusively on Business Times for the coming weeks