The role of leadership

Nelson-MandelaIn organisations where there is faith in the abilities of formal leaders, employees will look towards the leaders for a number of things. Workers expect effective and sensible planning, confident and effective decision-making, and regular, complete communication that is timely. Members will expect leadership to be supportive, concerned and committed to their welfare, while at the same time recognizing that there are times when tough decisions need to be made.

In organisations characterized by poor leadership, members expect nothing positive. In a climate of distrust, members learn that leaders will act in ways that do not seem to be in anyone’s best interests. Poor leadership means an absence of hope, which, if allowed to go on for too long, results in an organisation becoming completely stagnated and nonfunctioning. The organisation must labour under the weight of members who have given up, have no faith in their organisation or in the ability of leaders to accomplish anything.  

Leadership, particularly, has to be prepared for change. In today’s world we are often times caught up in the debate between tradition and change and see it as one versus the other, rather than accept that tradition does not mean an inability to change and grow.

Doing things the same old way may seem a lot safer, but it actually hurts an organisation’s chances for success. A culture that’s unwilling to break things can’t move forward. If it tries to salvage everything from the past, it ends up carrying a lot of old baggage. Bureaucratic practices and all kinds of other bad habits build up over time. So it is important to recognize change as a part of growth.

Leadership is getting people to work when they are not obligated.

Leaders must manage and embrace diversity. Look at the world in which we live. Leading now means leading different generations and genders, ethnic groups/nationalities.

Leadership is a state of seeing, thinking, acting, influencing and mobilizing ourselves and others (individuals, team, organisation, communities, etc) in culturally meaningful ways towards achieving a purpose.

To lead is to know yourself, be clear on your purpose and principles.

To lead is to see a broader purpose. As such it requires preparation. Preparation requires that we look ahead. Therefore vision precedes leadership.

But what is vision? To see today and tomorrow, to look at things as they are, is to have SIGHT. To see things the way they can be, to perceive one’s purpose is to have VISION

Leaders must therefore have:

  • A Guiding Vision
  • Passion
  • Integrity

Followers want direction, trust and hope .

Leading is not necessarily being popular.  Leading requires

  • Making difficult choices; confronting people and issues
  • Teamwork
  • Listening Skills
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Dissent/Contrary Views

A culture that doesn’t tolerate failure also has trouble developing new competencies

The new paradigm for leadership means that leaders today must be chiefly concerned with giving service to their community, rather than advancing their own ideas, careers or sense of privilege.

  • Management is a set of techniques or strategies for influencing others towards goal achievement.
  • To manage is to know your work and to know others.
  • It is more about “hardship”, than about being at the top, being in charge.  

We live in a new age, an age of transition from an old world order to a new one. Every day brings fresh evidence of the collapse of old ideas and institutions and the blossoming of new ones.

Human beings have a dual nature. One side is centered on the material world. It is, simply put, concerned with basic physical need: survival, food, shelter, and creature comforts. The other aspect of human reality is our spiritual side. This aspect, which stems from our God-created rational human soul, engenders love, compassion, and altruism.

For too long, leadership has been understood — by both leaders and followers — as power and control over others. Leaders in this mode have tended to debilitate those whom they are supposed to serve. In order to exercise control, such leaders too often seek to over-centralize the decision-making process or coerce others into agreement. While they may appear to listen carefully, they actually aim to advance preconceived ideas and to dominate others — “know-it-all expertism”.

Leadership is first a matter of the heart. Whenever you have an opportunity or responsibility to influence the thinking and the behaviour of others, the first choice you are called to make is whether to be motivated by self-interest or by the benefit of those you are leading.  

Contrary to what many may believe, morality in leadership does matter.

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