Our society encourages everyone to be a leader. You can’t just be a leader, however. Being a leader takes experience and skills. Reading articles can’t give you everything that you need to be a leader, but it can help you understand what it takes to make yourself a great leader.
Give Yourself Time
As was mentioned above, waking up and trying to become a leader is not a good idea. This is true for a number of reasons, namely that you aren’t likely to become a good leader. Being a leader requires experience and an understanding of the work that is required of the “followers” in order for a leader to be effective.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t allow yourself aspirations to leadership. A desire to become a leader while you are in a “following” position. Aspirations to leadership can make you a better follower, and approaching your following role from the position of someone who wants to be a leader can make you a more effective leader when your time comes.
Starting from a following position is also important in that followers are more likely to respect a leader who started out as a follower. Leaders who start off as leaders are often seen as being unprepared, naive, or privileged.
Do Your Research
Working towards leadership should also involve studying leadership. This can come in many forms. Sometimes this means studying leadership styles or methods. There are a number of different established leadership styles and methods, but more on that later. No matter which leadership style you select for yourself or for your situation, knowing what other people have found to work can be important.
Many people also study great leaders from fields like politics, the military, or business. This can be a good way to learn about leadership techniques, but everyone has their own, and it is important not to try to lead as someone else would. Instead lead like you would.
Learning about leading comes from experience and from research but it also comes from listening. Learning from people in leadership positions that you have direct access to can help you to get the most out of your time as a follower.
Once you are a leader, however, your time listening isn’t over. Of course, you can continue to learn from other leaders, but the best leaders also listen to their own followers. “Followers” don’t get their fair shake in most societies, but the truth is that they do a great deal of work and their problems can really slow them down and have a negative impact on productivity. If you can listen to your team about their problems and how you can be a better leader for them, you will have a more productive team.
Find A Leadership Style
As mentioned above, there are any number of different leadership styles.
Which leadership style you use should be based on your personality, on the collective personality of your team, and on the goal that you have on hand.
This variety can mean that sometimes a leadership style that you have studied fervently or become comfortable with in one situation may not be effective or appropriate in another.
Put Your Team First
Finally, great leaders should think of their teams first.
Because of the emphasis placed on the importance and prestige of leadership, many people focus more on climbing the ladder than they do on completing their objective. This makes for ineffective leaders, but it also leads to ineffective teams. Of course, the leaders of ineffective have a harder time climbing that ladder.
Your greatest goal should be the success of your team, and the success of your team will make you more successful as a leader.
No article can tell you everything that you need to know about leadership, but hopefully this article has helped you to understand what some of these necessary skills and experiences are.
Are You A Leader Or A Follower?
It’s a question that is often asked with the implication that there is only one real answer. Either you are a leader, or you are worthless, fit only to be shepherded by the strong, intelligent, and brave.
Before we continue, it is important that you know that this is not the case. Leaders are important, but so are followers. After all, where would leaders be without followers? The world needs leaders, but it also needs followers. It’s also okay to start a follower with the aim of becoming a leader, or to be a leader today and a follower tomorrow.
Whatever the case, it’s probably easier to break the question up into questions that address the qualities of leadership. This article won’t tell you whether you are a leader or a follower, but it will help you to answer the question reliably for yourself.
Are You Confident With The Situation?
Confidence is important to leadership, both confidence in yourself to lead and confidence in yourself to handle the situation. If you aren’t sure that you can lead or aren’t familiar with the type of situation that you are faced with, you probably aren’t the best person to lead in that situation.
Passing up a leadership position in this situation will protect you from making a critical error in a leadership position but it will also protect the team by allowing a better prepared person to step forward, increasing the team’s chances of success.
You also should have confidence in your team. Without a good team, the project will likely fail. If you don’t see much chance of success, do you want to be a leader or a follower when the ship goes down? Sometimes the decision to be a leader or a follower is based more on the situation than it is on your ability.
How Do You Handle Pressure?
When faced with great responsibility, some people rise to the occasion and others collapse under the pressure. Knowing which one you are can help you decide not whether you are right for the position but whether the position is right for you.
It is also important to consider what kind of position you are looking at.
Some leadership positions mean that you are truly at the top of the heap, while other leadership positions mean that you are in charge of a team but are also answering directly to someone else. The latter kind is often more stressful.
Do You Think Big Or Small?
A final question to ask yourself is whether you think big or think small.
Leaders often work in terms of systems, trying to decide how best to handle large decisions with large implications. Leaders have to think big.
Followers, on the other hand, often have a narrow set of responsibilities that deal with more specialized knowledge. Followers have to think small.
Once again, there’s nothing wrong with thinking small, it just means that you are probably more valuable working with the details of your current position rather than working with the sweeping organizational choices that leaders often have to deal with.
Are You A Leader Or A Follower?
“Are you a leader or a follower?” That’s a very misleading question. It implies that leaders and followers are born, cast in different molds.
The truth is, whether you are more fit to be a leader, or a follower depends less on who you are as a person and more on the situation. Don’t ask yourself whether you are a lamb or a lion, ask yourself whether you have the experience and skills required to take on the job and do it well.
When you start asking the question based on the situation than based on yourself, you realize that the question shouldn’t be asked about what’s best for you but what’s best for the team. If you are what is best for the team, take the big chair. If you are having second thoughts, let someone else take it.