People often refer to leadership as a skill that a certain person has. It is a kind of skill in which a particular person can make other people follow him without skepticism. However, if leadership is “properly” defined, it is a process of accomplishing things through a person who influences people to work and deliver what it is that is to be delivered. In addition, since not all goals that are set will be successful, leadership is an adventure. In reaching goals, the person leading must think of various ways to accomplish all the things that they want to accomplish for there are times that they will fail due to an erroneous decision, or an error on the method or approach that they used. When they fail, they are back to the starting point and will work on again by analyzing what went wrong and by formulating a new plan minus all the points that caused their failure on their first trial.
Nowadays, people should be fully aware of the definition of leadership since this is particularly crucial and very prominent in every setting – from school, workplace, government, among others. However, there are still people who are not familiar about what leadership really is; as said before, it is regarded as a skill that one possess that is why a particular person can make other people follow him of her. Moreover, it is assumed to be a quality or characteristic of a person. Only a lesser portion of the population knows that leadership is a process that requires several skills and specific qualities from a certain person in order for him to be able to influence the people who works under him towards the achievement of a goal.
Anyone can become a leader just as long as they develop the skills that are needed; moreover, anyone can lead even though they are not the president of the country, a coach of the team or a captain of a ship. In other words, anyone can be a leader when the situation calls for him or her to lead others. You do not need any badge or a prestigious office in order to be a leader. However, if you are a leader you are not similar to a boss in every sense. Bosses are usually known to be the people who always boss others and push people around. In contrast, if you are a good leader, you are not doing these things to the people under you. Then again, a leader and boss may be synonymous if the latter does things by influencing empowered and effectual people.
A leader in a business establishment, like any other leader, has to deal with two things: the job at hand and the group he should lead. These two aspects are essential in the process of leading a business entity; if there is a group but there is no job, a leader is not needed. The case is the same if there is a job but there is no group to carry it out. The leader can also only tell if he led in a right way if they got the job done and, at the same time, the group is still held together. If the job was done but the group was dissolved, the accomplishment and success are both useless because the leader who took charge of the job was not a good leader. Any person who wants to be a good leader should know that getting the job done is not the only thing that matters.
When it comes in being an effective leader in the business sector, one should have the important leadership skills, namely: honesty and integrity, competence and credibility, forward looking and visionary, inspiring and motivating, and good communication skills. These five sets of skills are very significant in succeeding in any organization, wether the team is within the business arena or not.
Honesty – meaning to be true and trustworthy – and integrity – which connotes acting in a just and honorable manner – are very essential skills in being a leader. Your team should be able to trust you because without trust nothing will be accomplished. Trust is the key to any effective employer-employee relationship. In addition, all your actions must be logical and rational, not based on impulse and sudden outburst of emotion but on the principles that you believe in. Though being honest, most of the times, cause trials to the person who practices it, it is better to be truthful all the way so that your team will trust and follow you for they will believe that all you will say are true whether those words are positive or not. For an instance, if an employee delivers an unsatisfactory job, you should tell him in all honesty that you are expecting or needing something more that what he had presented. While the employee may feel bad the criticism may help him do things better, and will contribute to having a quality result in the end.
The next set of skills are competence and credibility; competence talks about being appropriate to a certain job or task while credibility refers to being reliable and trustworthy. If a person wants to be a leader, he or she should be competent to lead other people; he or should have the capacity to influence and convince the team about the things to do and the decisions to be made. Being a leader demands a lot of responsibility and comes with a lot of pressure, a person in order to lead must be able to keep his composure whenever the situation gets out of hand and stressful, otherwise, he, along with the team, will go downhill.
In addition, this person should have all the abilities, experience and expertise to lead, these factors will lead to being trustworthy for when the people he or she will lead see that he or she knows what he or she is talking about and he or she has the full grasp of the goal and all the situations then they can trust him to lead them. Just like when reading a book about new innovations in the medical world, people will only buy and believe it if the person who wrote it is an expert. In as similar vein, a leader should have enough background about the task at hand so that the people will see if he or she definitely knows what he or she is talking about as a subject matter expert.
Thirdly, a leader should be forward-looking which means he or she should has his or her eyes on the things that might take place in the future, this is a necessity in order for the leader and the team to be prepared and alert of what is to come whenever they make a decision. The leader should be the first to see the consequences of each of their actions and consequences in order to avoid mistakes and failures; he should evaluate and study every situation and option presented to him or her carefully before choosing and making a final decision. Additionally, being a visionary is also important, with this characteristic, a leader has a specific and precise vision of what he wants in the future, it is here that the goal is formulated and this vision is what will keep them on track. If the leader has a vision to have his company the leading business firm in the country, all of his actions, decisions and moves will all be towards this vision, without any kind of vision, then there is no goal at hand to be achieve; thus, there is no reason to work at all.
Subsequently, a leader should be inspiring and motivating. Inspiration and motivation are two important factors in order to have a drive to work, a leader should inspire and motivate his team to work for the goal they want to achieve. An effective leader should not only give his or her team the things they have to do but also the reason why they should do them, he or she should provide them the purpose of their tasks and, of course, their goal. Inspiration and motivation are very important each and every one of us; an athlete cannot get himself to perform his best when he lost his motivation and a writer would not be able to write a bestselling novel without any inspiration. As a leader, you should remind your team to believe in themselves, this also means that you must have the drive, determination and spirit for these are what you need to motivate them.
Last but not the least is that a leader must have good communication skills. In order to lead, a leader must communicate to his team for that is the only way for him or her to deliver them the instructions, to give them inspiration and motivation, to be honest to them, to convince them that he is credible to lead, and to share to them his vision. Good communication skills and leadership go on together, if you can be a good communicator, you will be able to express yourself very well, both thoughts and feelings. You have to establish good and effective communication with your team in order to convey not only words but also meanings. In addition, if you become an effective communicator, you will be able to project a confident and sincere image that people likes to see in a leader. You should maintain good communication with your team; otherwise, you and each of your employees will draw into isolation which will bring negative effects on the business because it can cause in making wrong decisions.
In the next four or five years, I would want to develop these skills in order to contribute to my success, particularly, honesty and integrity, competence and credibility, and good communication skills. These three set of skills are, in my opinion, the most essential in becoming an effective leader, for that reason, these are the skills that I will focus on developing in the next four to five years. Honesty and integrity are very important because it is through these that trust can be build and establish. Developing honesty is not easy because humans are subject to lie most of the time intentionally and unintentionally due to their nature.
One particular reason why we lie is because we do not want others to be hurt that is why we resolve to saying “white lies”, however, in the business realm, these lies and other kind of lies should be avoided because covering negative things with such will affect the result of the job. In order for me to develop honesty, I must learn to say truthful things and also learn the proper way to address them especially those negative matters so that people would not be hurt and for them to see for themselves the aspects that they could work on the aspects they should work on. On the other hand, to develop integrity, I should learn to focus on my principles and be able to control myself in order to act rationally not based on my impulse and sudden emotional outburst. Through this, I will be able to avoid acting unjust and harsh towards other people.
The next competence I want to develop is competence and credibility. To develop these two, I must gain a lot of experiences in order to expand my competencies and credibility. I must learn to take responsibility for a lot of things, and to handle different kinds of situation and, as well as, pressure in order for me to be considered as competent. In addition, I should acquire the necessary qualities and attributes such as charisma, communication skills, confidence, and responsibility to be competent enough to be a leader. On the contrary, in order to be credible, I need to study the things I need to learn regarding the task at hand, since I am planning to enter business, I must equip myself with the appropriate knowledge on how the business world works and about the certain business I would enter to so that my team will look at me in a way that I perfectly know what I am talking about and what I want to happen.
Lastly, I would want to develop my communication skills because I believe that communication is the most important thing between the relationship of an employer and an employee. Without good communication skill, I would not be able to convince them to work for me, I would not be able to share them my vision and the plans that I have in order to achieve our goals, and I would not be able to tell them what I have in mind or if they are doing the right thing. It is only through communication that will I be able to inspire and motivate them to do the things we have to do. Most relationships fail due to lack of good communication, which is why for me this is the most essential skill in becoming an effective leader.
My team should always hear me out in reminding them of our goals and in briefing our plans. Without communication, they would not do the things they have to do and worse, they will just move according to their own way. If that happens, the job would not be accomplished and the group will not stay intact. The process of leadership can only be considered a success if the job was done and the group still stays together as a cohesive team.
Some of the most influential leaders in the history have all the five important leadership skills, especially the three that I have chosen. Queen Elizabeth II of the Great Britain held the British monarchy and institution with a steady hand which is why they remained solid throughout the time she was placed in the throne, she understood the needs of reforms and even opened her accounts to the public in order for them to see that they are one with the people when it comes to decreasing the costs of their lifestyle.
Then there is also Arnold Schwarzenegger who was elected as the governor of California, people may raise their eyebrows or have already raised them when he ran and won the election, but he is a visionary and this was evident on the economic policies that he have imposed on California in order to reduce the effects of global warming, he is also the one responsible in restoring the state’s environment – he have reduced the pollution in air and water, and even restored the habitats for the animals. All these measures were done for his vision of making California acquire electricity on natural sources like wind, biomass and sun by the year 2020.
Likewise is in the case of President Hu Jintao of China, who aims to get through the economic and social tensions rising in the country that was brought by the country’s growth for he wants to build a society living in harmony. He was the one responsible of China’s rapid growth in the international world economically; he also radiates an aura of a knowledgeable, intelligent and confident leader. Also, if there is anyone who had a lot of pressure and stress in leading, it could be Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City who needed to rebuild the city that never sleeps after the unforgettable nightmare of “9/11” – this is what competency is about.
While in the world of business, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft from the year 1975, dominated as the world’s most influential business leader. He has the kind of determination that he used in his leadership that led to the change of the face of programming and information technology. Dropping out of Harvard University did not seem to become a waste as he is now one of the world’s richest men. And there is also Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, who is responsible for today’s most hyped gadgets.
Being a leader is not impossible for anyone of us, we may be born with the potential leadership skills, and all we have to do is to develop them to become an effective leader. The five sets of skills I have discussed are really important to become an effectual leader. Leaders should be honest to everyone including himself; he should have integrity, the competencies and credibility to become one. He should provide inspiration and motivation to give his followers the drive to work. He should be forward-looking and should be a visionary to be prepared and focus of the future. Lastly, he should be a good communicator to convey all of these to his team. Being a political leader or a business leader necessitates all these skills; one may just need to adapt one’s focus as applicable in the setting where one is expected to lead.