What Makes A Leader

Everybody Leads – But Good Leadership is an Outcome

We are all called upon to lead at certain times. We lead in our families, we lead civic organizations, and we lead at work. It’s not just something reserved for those at the top of organisations. No matter what office or station we hold, there are times when we must lead.

In fact, often those at the top of an organization are unable to effectively lead – because real leadership does not come from an office or title, it comes from within us. It comes from what we do and say.

Integrity + Competence > Trust > Influence > Inspiration = Leadership

Integrity and Competence build Trust;

Trust creates Influence;

Influence Inspires;

And

Through influence and inspiration a Leader is Effective.

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching”.

The essential attribute of the effective leader is integrity. Being genuine. It means you mean what you say. It means you are honest. You walk your talk. Your actions must be completely aligned with your words. When others see this alignment it inspires trust.

Building our integrity is a daily task. It means we must have a clear vision for what we want to achieve and how we want to achieve it. It requires us to be honest with ourselves and at all times with others.

Competence also inspires trust. People are naturally influenced by competence. They respect it. When a leader’s actions and words are perceived as competent they are trusted more.

Competence means knowing what you are talking about. It comes from experience and study. It requires a process of continual learning. It arises when someone continuously sharpens their skills. When your actions are well done and produce genuine results people are naturally impressed and will listen with confidence. When others are motivated to listen to a leader with confidence trust is built and the leader becomes more effective.

Others will trust us only if we give them ample reason to do so. People are naturally sceptical and expect a leader to prove themselves. They want to have a good reason to trust a leader. Only if they perceive that a leader has genuine integrity and competence they will begin to trust that leader.

Once trust is established the leader can influence others to adopt a common vision and work toward it. However, influence is only the first step in effectively leading others. Effective leadership is about leverage – influencing others in such a way that they will apply their own creativity and thinking to problems to solve them in a way that is aligned with the common vision.

It is this ability to inspire others to do more than the leader could ever imagine on his own that translates into the most effective leadership. The most effective leader is not the micro-manager. Most organizations are too big and too complex to be directed exclusively by one person’s ability, creativity and knowledge. It requires the combined abilities of many people.

Effective leaders unleash that collective ability, creativity and knowledge in a manner that is aligned with a common vision to achieve far more than any individual can achieve alone..  

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