Leadership

What Is Leadership (and How You Can Be Fucking Brilliant at It)

Some people only take on leadership roles when they are thrust upon them. For example, if there is an emergency, someone might be required to act as a leader to make sure that the situation is dealt with. People like this might have the potential to be leaders in the long term but they’re not constantly honing and developing their leadership skills.

However, other people consider leadership a way of life. They hungrily consume all the literature that’s out there about leadership. They read about the lives of other leaders and what they believed in. They try out different ways of leading to figure out which one will work. They don’t only lead others when absolutely necessary; they lead people every day.

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Some people might be everyday leaders at work while others take up leadership roles in their church or community. There are many situations in which leadership is required. People are hungry for good leaders who will be able to bring about the desired results. So if you have the drive necessary to become a leader of this sort, consider the following points:

What Is Leadership?

Most people think that a leader is a person who is at the helm in any situation. They think of kings, political leaders, managers and business owners as leaders. However, history has shown us that there were many kings who weren’t leaders at all. And there are many political leaders who are dictators rather than leaders. Even managers and business owners might not be leaders; they might just be figureheads while the strings are really pulled by someone else (if you want to read up more on this, check out our recent post on leadership vs. management).

Often, true leaders stay in the background, at least for a long time, until they are recognized as such. A true leader is someone who has the best interests of his/her team at heart and is willing to do what it takes to make sure that it achieves its goals. They might do this by openly saying what they think or they might be persuasive enough to make people believe that they came up with the ideas themselves. The main point is that leaders don’t necessarily need to be in the spotlight; they’re just people who are dedicated to the interests of the team.

Leadership Qualities

Different leaders have different leadership qualities. Pretty much any good quality that you can think of can be developed and expanded greatly in order to help you in your leadership goals.

  • Honesty: Are you generally an honest person? Honesty can be a great inspiration for others. Plus, it’s also beneficial for you because it helps you to keep better track of how you and your team are doing. If you’re constantly inflating how well you’re performing, this can really hurt you when the truth comes out.
  • Creativity: Are you a creative person? Creativity can be of great help in leadership because creative people don’t stop after trying out one solution. If it doesn’t work, they keep coming up with new ideas that might do so. Creativity, at its heart, is just the willingness to try different things.
  • Trustworthiness: Are you a trustworthy and reliable person? This can be a great comfort to your team whose members will definitely turn to you when they want to talk about something. That thing might be positive, like a new idea, or negative, such as frustration with work. This will help you to keep track of everything that’s going on.

So think about what your strengths are and how you can use and develop them to become an effective leader. While you're at it, it's probably not a bad idea to also think about your weaknesses, and what can be done there to stop them becoming a problem. In our experience, almost every team is exhibiting one or more of the five dysfunctions of a team. The sooner you can identify what that dysfunction is and how to remedy it, the better off your team will be (try out our free self-assessment below).

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Leadership Styles

Different leaders lead in different ways. Leadership styles have often been divided into the following categories: authoritarian, paternalistic, democratic, laissez-faire and transactional. The meanings of these different ways of leading people are self-evident.

  • Authoritarian leaders make all the decisions themselves and exercise a greater degree of control over those who are under them.
  • Paternalistic leaders tend to act like parents who are instructing, rewarding and disciplining their children.
  • Democratic leaders try to take the entire teams ideas and feelings into consideration.
  • Laissez-faire leaders pretty much let people do whatever they want and exercise very little control.
  • Transactional leaders keep a strict watch on how well team members are doing and reward or discipline them accordingly.
  • Transformational leaders have a greater vision for the future of the team. They want to see the team become everything that it can become. These are the leaders with the greatest impact.

Leadership Courses & Training

Some people tend to think that leaders are born, not made. However, those who have taken leadership courses or training know that this is not true. Anyone can be a leader if they put their mind to it. And in order to do this, they have to develop the qualities necessary to be one.

Leadership courses help you to isolate the qualities needed to be a good leader. You’ll learn which qualities you already have and which ones you are lacking. So this is essentially a process of looking within. The training may come from the outside but it’s you who decides whether it’s going to be useful to you or not. If you can put your trust in a leadership coach, you might undergo a transformation yourself.

Leadership and Management

Managers aren’t necessarily good leaders and vice versa. However, a good manager definitely needs to have some leadership qualities.

Often, people take up management positions without realising what they will entail. However, there are key differences between leadership and management. When you go from being a part of the team to being the leader of the team, you have to learn to get things done rather than doing them all yourself. You have to understand what the members of your team are thinking and feeling so that you can motivate them to work for the good of the team and the company.

Understanding people is one of the most important qualities that a leader must have. And if you want to be successful as a manager, it’s indispensable.

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Ryan Bonnici

Ryan Bonnici

Ryan Bonnici is the Senior Director of Global Marketing at HubSpot. He’s an experienced digital marketing leader having held roles previously at Salesforce, ExactTarget, Microsoft and Qantas Airways. He's an experienced digital marketing consultant having worked with a wide range of businesses from thermal clothing sales to executive coaching services. For more frequent updates, follow him on Facebook (@growthguy) or Twitter (@ryanbonnici)