When we go to the dictionary and find the word "leadership", we find the following definition: "the action of leading a group of people or an organization, or the ability to do this."
When I read this definition, the main question that comes to mind is: Do we learn how to be a leader through professional experience, or is it a personal/professional skill?
In my opinion, there are some leadership skills that only require training and can be achieved by anyone, regardless of the level of experience, job title, or education. It's a matter of having the drive to achieve and the constant daily goal of whether or not you are going to follow through. I’ve listed some examples of leadership lessons that I’ve personally learned during my career:
- Do not finish when you are tired; finish when you are done.
- Only you can determine whether or not you make the extra effort; by giving your all every single day, you will lead others by example.
- Keep learning something new every day, even small things! When attitudes of “I do not know" or "I do not care” infiltrate your work environment, they only project frustration and negativity.
- Say what you mean and mean what you say; this simple action will build a reputation of trust around you.
- To care about the people around you, make the effort to understand their fears, pains or concerns and show your sincere intention to help them.
- To respect the other people's time, do not make others to wait for you. Consider everyone else’s time as valuable as your own.
I have seen these examples as general behavior rules, in all of the business leaders I have worked for in my life. However, there are some skills, that in my opinion are a perfect mix of experience, knowledge, and intuition that a leader has it or doesn’t have. These skills that are more inherent, can be particularly difficult to learn. The skills regarding the capacity to have a clear business vision of the future, the capacity to explain to the others what is next and the actions required to succeed. A good leader has the skill to change the perception of a big problem and morph it into an opportunity and explain it in a simple way.
Einstein said, "If you can not explain it simply, you do not understand yourself". The hunger to keep moving and improving things, no matter how good the previous result was , it's a constant habit in the leadership skills. Nothing is good enough and when a target is achieved, the leader will look for the next challenge.
These internal skills are also related to the personal brand, the way they speak, the way they walk, the way they listen. Basically, they bring a light to the room upon their entrance, without saying a single word. However, everyone in the room understands that the leader has arrived. To me, this is a big mystery and this effect is something that really impacts me. I would dare to say, that one of the most important skills in a leadership role is to be genuine. The business leaders that I know, they are themselves - always. They do not pretend to be a different person, they have strengths and weakness and they are not afraid to expose themselves and show their fears, because as a leader, they are humans too.
We are all human - even leaders! This means our leaders can fail from time to time, but what makes them a true leader, is the way that he or she reacts when they make a mistake.
Throughout my life, I’ve never encountered a person who is 100% correct or accurate, all of the time. I can report though, that I’ve had the opportunity to work with many wonderful leaders who have led with pride, success, and even an occasional mistake now and then.
The important part is that whether in the face of achievement or in a failure, they continue on, eager to lead the team and turning any minor mistakes into a new opportunity.