Leadership has been defined as "the ability to inspire willing action."
Emphasis is placed on the "willing." But to understand leadership, we need to delve a little deeper than that.
One thing which experience has proven over and over again down through the ages is that when any group of people are thrown together for any length of time or for any project, a leader will emerge from the group - one to whom they will listen and give their confidence and support.
Their position on the organization chart or their title alone cannot make a person a genuine leader. They must have certain traits and skills, or they will surely fail. In business it has been shown again and again that these skills can be learned and the traits can be developed in any individual who is willing to exert an effort based on strong desire and a true hunger for success.
Generally, a leader or teacher does not actually "develop" another person. They encourage and inspire that person to develop themselves from within. Thus, leadership is, in a large sense, self-initiated.
Once we understand and identify the methods and characteristics of admired leaders, we can take steps to develop these skills and traits ourselves. We can analyze ourselves - honestly, ruthlessly, objectively - and identify which skills we need to acquire or improve (and those which we need to play down).
However, it is my view that the "perfect leader" has yet to be born. We all have room for self-improvement. If we can agree upon what it takes to be a good leader - what are the traits of leadership, what are the skills - we will at least have made a good start. We should analyze every genuine leader we know and try to learn which qualities influenced us to consider them a good leader.
And that is what I have done: My first experience of leading was thrust upon me at the tender age of eight years old, when I captained my soccer team - since then I have always been the captain - it is as well, because I am not a very good follower however hard I have tried.
Does your leader inspire you into willing action ... or un-inspire you into unwilling action?
Final question: Are great leaders born or made? It seems that everyone has a view on that - every man, his dog, and most of his dog's best friends: I'll share my views shortly.... watch this space.
leadership / shutterstock