We always read in management-related books and articles about the importance of leadership and leaders, and how being a leader can rescue organizations from the brink of failure or even breathe life back into disengaged and unmotivated teams.
But what makes leadership so appealing to certain individuals and personas? What makes leaders what they are? Why is being a leader so important? Why are they so sought after in large organizations? And why do people, in the business world and outside of it, almost always respond positively to someone who shows strong leadership qualities?
These questions are implied whenever the topic of leadership is discussed, and while there are no definite answers, it is important to try and at least understand them.
It was once said:
“Leaders are born, not made”
Although I agree with this statement, I believe that, to some extent, true leadership is a result of self-enhancement coupled with acquired knowledge. To support this theory, I will try to shed light on how this is possible from the management point of view.
I recently came across an article written by Anna O’Dea titled “Managers aren’t always promoted for leadership or people skills.” In the article, there was this statement:
“Not all Managers are promoted because of their exceptional leadership or communication skills. They are promoted because they get results for the business. They get the job done. If they’re not good with people, this can sometimes be overlooked by business leaders in an attempt to continue to hit or exceed targets.”
This statement can be taken the wrong way if read without understanding the context in which it was written. Full disclosure, I did that before I even began to read the article. To the author’s credit, the article does talk about how this statement should not be the norm. Unfortunately, nowadays this statement holds some truth to it, as more and more unqualified people are becoming managers, just because they get the job done without any regard to how it is being done or the way they were able to make others do the job.
This is where the problem lies. The majority of the so-called “future leaders” in the business world come from a managerial background where their advancement was based on work performance rather than knowledge of effective management practices. These type of managers are the ones that the above quoted statement applies to.
In my article “True Management!” I have discussed how these types of managers look / treat their team members, and how they achieve the results they show and I provided a solution to that particular issue. Needless to say, these types of managers, if they advance to a more leadership role, they will eventually run the organization into the ground due to their lack of people skills.
It is crucial for managers that are aiming to advance higher up the organizational ladder to realize that they have to understand the true meanings of leadership, not just from a business point of view ( although this is important), but also from an interpersonal point of view, and adjust whatever needs to be adjusted with their managerial skills to achieve the leadership levels required to become influential leaders.
True leaders are exceptional individuals and exemplary managers; they are the ones that offer help without expecting any returns. They mentor without having to be asked. As a result, they are influential and enjoy the commitment from individuals fortunate enough to work with them.
But, while true leaders possess personal traits and qualities that are uncommon among typical managers, their success in leadership roles can be attributed, in addition to these traits, to their cumulative knowledge and experiences that they’ve acquired, or from — surprisingly — taking courses on how to manage better and how to enhance those vital soft-skills that matter the most in any leadership role.
True leaders are sought after in large organizations because they realize that, in order for the plans and strategies devised on the c-suite levels to succeed, commitment and support for the bottom line workers, supporting staff and anyone who is involved in being part of the organization, is required.
To care about the people in the organization means to invest time, effort, and money to improve their skillsets and offer them the tools that will help them advance in life. Additionally, showing gratitude and appreciation for the work being done can even take an organization to new levels of success, because people react positively when they are thanked — even the most cynical of employees, if shown continued gratitude and appreciation, will react sooner or later. Simply put, it is against human nature not to react positively to others who support us and show us their appreciation.
When people identify with a leader for any reason, they do so because this individual makes them feel that he/she cares about them, about what they think, and has recognized them as unique individuals with skills rather than nameless drones who perform tasks in return for a salary. And when people pledge their loyalty and support for someone, it is almost certain that they will give a thousand percent effort to ensure the success of this person or their organization.