Leadership is the art of getting people to do more than the science of management says is possible. It’s all about people, how you interact with people. The single word that best captures what leadership is really all about and how you know when you have it and when you don’t have it is the word trust. Leaders have to be trusted by their followers. Leaders also have to be good followers. If a leader is a good follower, then the person above you, your leader, has confidence and trust in you.
And how do you make them want to follow you? You create conditions of trust within an organization, a bond between people. The phrase, “within an organization,” is not used because what is really meant is a bond between people. So, it’s all about people. People accomplish work, not organizations, not plans, not strategies. People. People are the most valuable resource any leader has. Leaders maximize the productivity of others. Leadership is the ability to influence the actions of others.
Leadership is a process of getting things done through people. Leaders can influence people in many different ways. Different situations require different approaches. Leaders need to use a variety of leadership styles to meet different situations. Ask yourself the following questions:
- When is it appropriate to “get tough?”
- When is it appropriate to be easy going?
- When is it appropriate to let individuals or groups work on their own?
Leaders need to learn how to adapt their personal styles to different circumstances. In choosing a leadership style to meet a given situation, Leaders should consider factors such as control over how work is done, control over people’s activities, and control over the development of skills and abilities in the follower.
Object Lesson for Teaching Kids Leadership — Pushing String
- Lay out a piece of string flat and straight on a table.
- Try to move the string across the table by pushing it.
- Observe what happens to the string.
- Then try to move the string by pulling it.
- Observe what happens. What lessons does the string demonstration have for supervisors as leaders? • How do people feel about being pushed? • Think of situations in which you have felt pushed by a boss. • What kind of problems result from inappropriate choices of leadership style?
There are many definitions of leadership. Persons who, by word and/or personal example, markedly influence the behaviors, thoughts and feelings of a significant number of their fellow human beings.
Dwight Eisenhower: “the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
Leadership involves the performance of a group. Leadership involves setting direction. Anyone responsible for group performance is a leader. When you get put in charge of a group you are the leader because you have the position. People pay attention to what you do and say because you’re the leader. You’re choice is whether or not to be an effective leader.
Leadership is more an art than a science. So being a leader is an adventure because you can never be sure whether you will reach your goal – at least this time. The touchdown drive may end in a fumble. Or the city’s citizens may not be convinced that the mayor’s policies are right. So these leaders have to try again, using other methods. But they still use the same process the process of effective leadership.
You are an explorer of the human mind because now you are going to try to learn how to get things done through people. This is one of the keys to leadership. Leadership differs with the leader, the group, and the situation. Every leader deals with two things. The job and the group. The job is what’s to be done. The “job” doesn’t necessarily mean work. It could be playing a game. It could be getting across an idea. A leader is needed to get the job done. If there were no job, there would be no need for a leader.
The group is the people who do the job. And in many cases, the group continues after the job is done. This is where leading gets tough. You can always tell when a leader succeeds, because:
- The job gets done.
- The group holds together.
Almost anybody with a whip and a mean temper can get a job done. But in doing it, they usually destroy the group. And that’s not leadership. The group must survive and thrive too. An effective leader, then, must be alert at all times to the reaction of the members of the group; the conditions in which he may find himself; and be aware of his own abilities and reactions. Leadership involves helping others succeed. It is getting a job done with a group and holding the group together too. It is putting people, things, time, and effort together to accomplish a task. It is influencing others toward good and worthy goals.
The new leader is accountable for many organizational procedures that followers may not have to consider. These may include daily reports, monitoring time and attendance, budgeting, work orders, transmitting management directives and bulletins, and a host of other types of information.
Leadership is an attribute needed by all organizations and from all individuals in them. This idea of shared leadership, which views leadership as distributed throughout organizations, goes beyond the traditional view of leadership as unilateral influence by a single heroic leader. Leadership is to inspire and develop people (self, other individuals, team, organization) as you mobilize them toward goals.