What is leadership?

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The leader has an orientation toward change and a bias for action – she must focus, motivate, organise and activate followers to achieve singleness of purpose, active commitment and alignment of movement. The one immutable pre-requisite in leadership is people – without followers, there is no leader. Without authentic, coherent, communicative, trustworthy, accessible, receptive and encouraging leadership, there can be no followership.

There are principles of leadership which can be learned; the application of those principles is individual (and often situational) and depends upon the person who is cast in the leadership role. Leadership is personal. Different people will lead differently, based on who they are. The values I hold and the sort of person I am will determine who I am as a leader – congruence of values and effective interpersonal style are critical to working with other people as a leader. There is no one right way to lead, although leadership has its moral imperatives in the larger context of team, organisation and society.

“Those with a high aptitude for leadership will achieve it with seeming ease, while others will need to work harder; nonetheless, leadership potential is distributed widely among people at all levels and endeavours. Everyone – even the best – can learn to lead better”

To develop as leaders, people need a challenge, support from others for experimentation and practice and feedback on what’s working and what might be better. The commitment to one’s own development is essential to the requirements of leadership. From that perspective, the leader should be selfish in developing himself so that he is better prepared to provide opportunity for others to grow, for the real job of leaders is to develop other leaders.

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