Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cultivating The Right Attitude To Be An Effective Leader

When people use the term 'leader,' or 'leadership,' they invariably associate this term with authority and power. a leader does wield a power over his followers. But what kind of a power is this? This is a benign power, not a menacing power. The power is exercised out of concern - concern for the task, concern for the group and the concern for the individual who submits to this power. And where does the power come from? The power of leadership does not come from the barrel of a gun, as it might for a soldier, policeman or a criminal. The power comes from the leader's personality. The leader would normally be vested with some powers by the rules of the organization to which he belongs. But this is not real power because it does not last long. ironically, this 'power' is not even powerful! Only the power that a leader derives from his personality will stand him in good stead.

And what factors shape the personality of a leader? There could be several but 'attitude' is the most important of all. With the right attitude, a leader can generate any amount of power that he needs. and with the wrong attitude, any amount of power that he has derived from any other source will be as effective as a battery-operated device that has only dead batteries in them.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Leadership Skills Development

How to acquire leadership skills? Can you get these skills by training?

Yes, you can develop your skills to be a leader. But before developing the skills, you need to have a change in your attitude.

Many people mistake leadership as a position of power. It is not. It is a seat of responsibility and unless you have the right attitude, the seat of responsibility which you occupied mistaking it to be a seat of power would soon turn into a hotbed from which you will be forced to jump out. Whether  you would jump out on your own or would be kicked out is the only issue.

The mistaken belief about the power of  leadership results from our observing the "leaders" in politics and a few other social organizations. We are liable to be carried away by the arrogance, nonchalance and high-handed behavior of people in powerful positions. What we often witness are not instances of leadership but of pseudo leadership. If we record our observations for a long period, we fill find that most of the "powerful" leaders end up getting humiliated and shunted out.

Almost all the dictators looked at leadership as power and hence failed to provide leadership. There is a huge difference between commanding people as a leader and commanding people by the use of power. When people obey a powerful person, they do not really obey the person but the power wielded by him. On the other hand, when people obey a leader, they do it because they accept his leadership and respect him both as a leader and as a person.

So, what kind of an attitude should a leader have? We can list several attributes of good leadership but I will list "concern for his people" as the foremost. a leader who cares for the people whom he leads is the most powerful, most respected and most effective leader. What more, his task of leading the people becomes so easy and enjoyable.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Can Leadership Skills Be Acquired?

Leadership has become a fanciful concept. Everyone talks of leadership. With the growing realization of the power of leadership and with the flooding of information on techniques and strategies for leadership development, a lot of interest has been created on leadership so much so that the concept of  leadership is being talked about even in relation to small groups.

Another word that has gained popularity during the last couple of decades is 'Team.'  People no longer work in groups. They work in teams! The word 'team' definitely looks more respectable than the word 'group.' A team is a more organized and a more powerful combination than a team and is expected to deliver because of the very nature of its structure. Some bright guy has turned the old English word team into a modern acronym by expanding it as 'Together Everyone Achieves More!' What a fantastic construction!

Since more is expected from a team, the concept of leadership has been integrated into it. A team is led by a Leader! In fact, the word team is sometimes considered a synonym for leadership. A team performs because it has a leader who knows how to get things done by his team members, some of whom may be more knowledgeable and more skilled than him. But he has  (at least, he is expected to have) one quality which makes him distinguished to gain the status of a leader. And that quality is 'leadership skills.'

There is an unresolved dispute about leadership skills. The point of dispute is whether these skills are inborn or whether they can be acquired. A lot of literature and training modules have been created to make anyone develop the leadership skills. While it is true that it is possible for anyone to acquire these skills through training, there is no gainsaying the fact that some are born leaders. This does not mean that leadership quality is genetic and not cultivable. Some are born rich. But there are many who are born poor but become rich by their efforts. In fact, there are several people who were born poor but have acquired an incredible amount of riches within a short period by sheer intelligence, innovation and hard work.

So, if one born poor can turn rich by his efforts, one who is not a born leader can, become a leader as well, by acquiring the leadership skills through learning and application.