I have been involved in Personal and Leadership training and development for the past 26 years as a facilitator, trainer and coach. What a marvelous and dynamic journey it has been.
Alvin Tolfer said “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that cannot read or write, but those that cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”. Nowhere else does this apply more than to leadership and the ability to guide and influence others. Leadership in a word is “influence”, according to John Maxwell, and the more skilled a person becomes at one-on-one and one-on-many communication, the greater the capacity to lead.
In the book “The Work of Leaders”, the authors, after much research, determined that all leaders need to be able to 1) Craft a Vision, 2) Build Alignment and 3) Champion Execution.(I recommend this book). Joel Barker, many years before, stated that to create a Vision Culture within an organisation, it had to be 1) Leadership Initiated 2) Shared and Supported 3) Positive and Inspiring 4) Detailed and Specific. Words of wisdom from both sources. What is interesting is that the number 2 in both studies were the most neglected, namely the points dealing with people and getting their buy in. To be learned and skilled in an area of focus and to have a title to go along with it does not guarantee that you will be a person of influence.
Many descriptions and titles for the modern leader come to mind as authorities have described the attributes of leaders….the Principle Centered Leader, the Servant Leader, the Mindful Leader, the Emotionally Intelligent Leader, the Situational Leader, the Relevant Leader, the Charismatic Leader, the Level Five Leader, the Leader without a Title and so on…all great titles with excellent research and facts to enhance our understanding of what it takes to be a better leader.
Here are a few things I have learned on my journey to recognize the Perfect Leader:
- Leadership is not for “softies”…if you see a man on top of a mountain, he did not fall there.
- Leadership is a process not an event. It takes time and effort, success and failure.
- Leadership in the 21st Century is a journey that requires constant learning both theoretically and practically.
- Leadership requires developing a burning desire to succeed and the discipline to put your beliefs into action.
- Leadership is more than mere words of encouragement to others, but a sincere and genuine interest and understanding of what they want to achieve.
- Leadership is not for everyone. Self Leadership is, but not ‘others’ Leadership.
- Leadership is trusting others enough to “let go.”
This might be a long list…so let me conclude by saying that there are no Perfect leaders, they will always have challenges however, successful Leaders have different challenges year after year, not the same ones over and over again. If you are growing and moving forward, there can be no one more successful than you. Failure is manifest when you quit and forego the opportunities that lie before you.
By Mark Cunningham