9/29/2015 08:48:00 pm

What is leadership?

Leadership quotesWallpaper 1: Leadership

But what is leadership? Let's find a definition to set the foundation first, from a dictionary (Oxford Advanced Learners), because as far I know, a dictionary has the most neutral answer:
 But I think our concept of this term shouldn't just agree with the dictionary. We each have our own bias and definitions.

There are different concepts and impressions of the word leadership. You can google for it, or even check out the quotes in my tab and see what some people have said about this complicated word. But this blog post is not about summarising what people say about leadership, it's about me and what I think about leadership. 

There's this picture which draws the line between a boss and a leader.: 
Okay. So we now know the difference between a boss and a leader. But besides that, what is a leader? What would you call leadership? Is it an external or internal thing? Is 'leader' a position or an attitude? Is it given or voluntarily taken? Are leaders always necessary in a group? 

Here's what I think.

First of all, a leader can be anybody, it can be you and me. Leadership is not a something given, it is taken by an individual when everybody else in the group wants to go somewhere but are all confused of the direction. This person who is willing to pluck up the courage to go forward alone, to take initiative, to push his group in the right direction, and motivates them along the way. He shares the same goals and principles as his team, and constantly reminds them of it, whether through words or actions. 

This leader doesn't force others to make him stronger and more power, instead he empowers his people. A leader may do things that people initially do not like, but ultimately is good for his team. This person generates inspiration among his team, and eventually he produces other leaders.

However, a good leader does not set out to be a leader. What do I mean?

Imagine this scenario: A group of teenagers (or adults if you wish) are seated in a room, and the teacher (or manager) asks for somebody to to be the team leader, the club president, to manage the project or activity. Many may raise their hands, some genuinely wanting to do what their teacher/manager asked, some to be able to have power, boss his friends/colleagues around and to look good in front of them.

Now visualise this: A group of travellers, lost and hungry in a desert. Now all of them have maps and compasses, but they're squabbling on who is correct and where they should go. There's one of them who's silent all this while and listening to everybody's opinions. He agrees with them, but realises that if they keep on arguing, they won't get anywhere. He thinks for awhile and manages to somehow hush them all, and he says,  "I agree with your opinions, however we have to get out of here before nightfall. Here's what I think we should do. Like (insert name here), we should follow the map, but because the compass seems to have spoiled, we have to use the sun for direction..."

Do you get what I'm trying to say here? The person second scenario has a genuine mindset to get his group out of the desert. There may be one or two stubborn people who disagree with him, but many will realise he's right and go with him.

The qualities of a leader may vary, but there are a set few that are expected. 
1. Responsibility: he must know that he is responsible of his team, his team's ambitions, actions, dreams, and confidence. Hence when he does something wrong, he must have:
2. Humility: he must be willing to listen to others and sometimes even admit his mistakes when he knows that he is wrong. 
3. Gratitude
4. Pride: it doesn't hurt to take pride in himself, and his team.  However being proud and being arrogant are two different things yet the line between them are often blurred.

A leader is one because of his passion. It could be anything- a passion to make his country independent like Mahatma Ghandi, a strong urge to overcome Voldemort (as well as people like Dolores Umbridge) like Harry Potter, or a passion to create a computer that is simple to use for laymen like Steve Jobs (I'm just listing the ones that come to my head that are easy to relate to). They may be managers and CEOs of startup companies, inventors, principals, etc etc. 

There are many famous leaders that pop up when you google for them, but what about those beside you? The leader may be that one in your class who took initiative to organise class outings every month. Sometimes you may not even know that he's the leader. 

He is willing to sacrifice time and energy to bring his team closer to the goal. He works more hours than his team mates, tirelessly and silently. 

Is leadership charisma, though? Is it persuading and arguing with people and convincing them that he is right? Well what I think is that charisma may help, but at the end of the day they are honest and not afraid to speak their minds, speak what is right for the whole group. 

"A leader is a dealer in hope," Napoleon says. Indeed. When a crisis or a simply a problem arises, a leader is proactive. [I had to look up what proactive meant as I wasn't very sure, but now I can explain to you-it means creating or controlling a situation rather than simply responding to it after it has happened.] Whether others are groaning, complaining, sighing, or even running away from the problem, this person doesn't join them (at least not for long). He jumps straight into the situation and starts thinking of a solution, a way to solve the issue. 

I just realised that this situation is especially common in Model UN. Yes, that's right, during crisis. After the situation is announced to the council, some of the speeches following it would sound along the lines of: 'This delegate is horrified that such a thing happened...', or 'This delegate condemns the actions of....' In this case some delegates would start proposing ideas and solutions and start drafting directives [they're the crisis version of a resolution, except much more direct (no flowery languages), shorter and only require ambulatory (action) clauses in bullet points]. This means that there can be more than one leader in a group-they can either be working hand-in-hand to guide the whole group in the same direction, or they may have different view points and possibly split the group into half or more. In either case, they are leaders. 

Anyway, back to leadership. 

Leaders are not afraid for feedback, in fact, they ask for and will appreciate your feedback. This is because they are keen and willing to improve. They want to make sure that their messages and actions are understood by the team, and they are constantly looking for ways to improve.

Be the leader that you would want to follow. 

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