What is the definition of leadership? There are many responses to this question. Leadership can often be considered in terms of a position. Leaders are then viewed as individuals with rank and authority, such as a president of a university or CEO of a company. Leadership can also be identified by a person. Leaders are then recognized by their power or ability to lead people – whether or not they have a position.
We all know of people who had positions of leadership but they did not provide leadership. A position is no guarantee of leadership. And yet, a leadership position provides a good starting point for anyone who desires to lead.
A person’s view of leadership can also be influenced by their cultural background. What people determine as effective leadership can often vary among and within cultures. Someone from a Western society may think that leaders should be bold and courageous. In contrast, someone from an Asian culture may think that leaders should be modest and humble.
It is widely accepted that leadership is the art of leading others to deliberately create a result that would not have happened otherwise. Leaders influence people towards the achievement of a goal. So, whether a person is from Bogota or Beijing they need both the art and skill to succeed in leadership. Here are three common marks of effective leaders.
1.) Leaders know where they are going. A leader has the ability to visualize the future, which compels them to get there. They are not satisfied with the way things are today. Leaders solve problems and make plans to reach their vision. Steve Jobs sparked the PC revolution when he envisioned a “computer for the rest of us”. Jobs wanted to create products, such as the MacBook and iPhone, that would change the world.
2.) Leaders take others with them. A leader needs to have the ability to motivate and inspire people to join them in their vision. A leader cannot achieve anything alone. They must have the trust of followers. It is very essential for a leader to communicate with people effectively. Leaders are also able to bring out the best in people. For nearly all of her life Mother Teresa served the poor and disadvantaged in Calcutta. Through thousands of faithful followers her work continues today in over 130 countries.
3.) Leaders reach their destination. A leader has the conviction and commitment to reach his or her goal. They will do whatever it takes to get there. They set goals that are realistic yet faith-stretching. A leader must not only strive to achieve results but also manage change along the way. Bono, the lead singer of the popular rock band U2, has not only sold millions of records but has also fought for social justice. He has enlisted major companies and millions of people to combat AIDS, poverty and preventable diseases.
Steve Jobs, Mother Teresa, and Bono are examples of great leaders who accomplished great change through the efforts of others. Today there is a great need in the world for leaders like them in governments, organizations, and corporations. Yet, there is also a great need for leadership in classrooms, clubs, residence halls and homes. Whether you are a student, parent or friend, what will you do to influence others and make a difference in your world today?