We all approach leadership from a unique standpoint – a combination of our own psychological make-up, intelligence training, and experience. Life has taught each one of us what it means to be a leader, and we probably caught our first glimpse of it as children. As we watched our parents, teachers, and coaches, we started to build our own concepts of being a leader, and with every new experience, that concept became more complex. In these experiences, we not only made notes of exemplary leadership styles but also noted things we wouldn’t do if we were in charge.
So, in a way, before any of us took on our first leadership roles, we started to think what it means to be a leader. And yet, as evidence by the conversation we had with seasoned leaders, few of us are prepared to lead. It is obvious that leadership is more of learning by doing act than anything still we have plethora of books stating latest and greatest ways to lead.
With all this information out there, why do so many leaders feel ill-prepared? In our conversation with a leader, he gave us his take on the institutional systems that typically funnel promising people into leadership roles. It is straightforward, if you perform your job well and show some hustle, eventually, you’ll move up the ranks. This is where it got a bit complicated for the leader as they keep on doing exactly what they’d be doing – and now direct reports must do leader’s earlier work and they now require the leader to inspire them and motivate them. Well, nobody taught the leader how to do that. Now, our leader had done all the traditional things that people do to prepare for leadership. They’d been to business school, for example, but still, they are caught off guard by the unique demands placed upon them as a leader. And, in this day-to-day task of it all, there is a requirement for some time for conscious reflection on the style of leadership.
Being a leader requires them to make difficult decisions like – being forced to choose amongst competing demands but what truly messes things up is the fact that people are the integral part of meeting the goals. Leaders often need to align their people with complex goals, deal with resistance, and try to gain a common ground from people with diverse interests.
In order to grow as a leader, you’ll need to focus your leadership skills in new directions, and this may be mentally and physically taxing for you. While you may get your first leadership position due to your positive working attitude or for your outgoing personality, you may want to develop your analytical side to be more successful in your next position. Well it goes without saying, “with great powers comes great responsibility”, a leader must strive to increase their competencies. This means, for example, you may want to balance the art of analyzing situations along with rallying the troops when the synergy is lagging.
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