What it Takes to be a Leader
I had several opportunities to lead several programs and activities in the past. I had many blunders and committed awful mistakes. I admit leadership is not an easy job. It requires not just the ability to give out instructions. It will also push you and sharpen you to fit in the mold of a leader. It is not for the faint of heart.
When I was a young leader, I thought leadership was just about delegating tasks and bossing people around. What's hard about ordering people to do what they're supposed to do? But little did I know that people won't follow you just because you are called a leader. There is a difference between people who obey and people who follow. People may abide by your instructions, albeit grudgingly. They look at the position you are representing. But people will only follow and rally behind you if they see the person behind the title.
What makes a leader a leader?
A few days ago, I saw my younger self in the person of a young leader I am working with. I saw his enthusiasm! But I also saw his tendency to overlook things that have a significant impact on his output. He failed to look at the things behind the scenes. He was too preoccupied with what was in the limelight.
The public may have noticed the beauty that is in the forefront, but the unseen events are a total mess. People behind the scenes were too tired of catching up with what was going on in front. Everyone was working - disorganized. There was too much running and unnecessary movements. What a tiring experience! What's even worse, some personnel were disgruntled.
We can be too focused on the "packaging" and compromise "what's within." Leadership is not just about delivering results. It's also about developing the people who bring these results.
Don't focus on your image. Focus on the team!
A program is not about you as a leader. You don't have to always be at the forefront of everything, every time. Sometimes you have to step down the stage and have someone else take your place in the limelight so you can work on other matters. This way, you are not just empowering others to be a leader. You also free yourself to do other equally important things.
Sometimes leadership is measured not by the hours of public exposure but away from the limelight.
You're always a leader and a follower.
Leadership is not a ticket that brings you to the top of the food chain. On the other hand, leadership must get you more in touch with what's on the ground. Leadership gives you a vantage point so you can address the issues accordingly.
That's why it is essential for a leader not to forget how to be a follower. He must lead with empathy and compassion. Genuine love and concern must be his motivation for discipline.
Always stay humble
As a leader, do not let the prestige and sparkle of a title lure you into arrogance. No one wants to abide by an arrogant leader. Humility gains more admiration.
The higher we reach on the leadership ladder, the bigger our hearts should grow towards the people we lead. We should not let our heads swell with praises and accolades. Above all, our goal is to bring others with us at the top, not to stomp people to stay beneath.
Leadership is challenging. It is admired by many, sought by many. But once you're there, it will exact a significant toll on you. If you aim for it, be sure to prepare for it.