What does it mean to be a leader, you may ask?
Many people like the idea of leading a team and enjoying the respect that comes with being in a top position.
However, being a leader transcends beyond being at the top of the organization’s hierarchy.
Being a leader goes beyond being called the boss or the head of an organization.
In this unique blog post, we answer the question, what does it mean to be a leader?
Stay with us to find out all you need to know.
What Does It Mean To Be A Leader
To answer this question, we’ll dive deeply into;
- Who is a leader?
- Examine various misconceptions/definitions about leadership
- The difference between leadership and a management
- And what it means to be a leader; Qualities of a good leader.
Many people have the idea of the concept of leadership. However, only a few people understand what it truly means.
Hence, we’ll consider who a leader is.
Who Is A Leader?
A leader leads, inspire and motivates a team of people towards achieving set goals or objectives.
John C. Maxwell, a seasoned leadership and management coach, said, “a good leader is one who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit.”
More so, there are different types of leaders with various leadership styles.
Sadly, a lot of people have some misconceptions about the concept.
Let’s find out what some people believe leadership to be about.
Misconceptions About Leadership
#Leadership Is Just About The Title/Position
Most people tend to think about leadership to be solely about the title or position.
They think that being called a leader or boss makes you one.
Well, effective leadership transcends beyond the title or position.
Instead, it deals more with the work you have to put in to achieve results.
#Leaders Are Necessarily Extroverts And Outgoing
Most people also make the mistake of thinking that only extroverts can be great leaders.
They think that you have to be the life of the part and extremely confident to be great at leadership.
This is mostly stereotypical.
On the contrary, introverts make great leaders and are more susceptible to making better decisions due to their cool, calm, and collected nature.
Also, they are excellent listeners, which makes them capable of effective leadership.
#Leadership Is About Knowing It All
While it is expected of a leader to possess some level of expertise in specific areas, however, he/she is not expected to know it all.
No one knows it all.
Sadly, most people expect leaders to have it all figured out.
On the contrary, leadership is about bringing different people together to form an effective team that achieves positive results.
Everyone in the team has a role to play and not just the leader.
#Leadership Is About Being Perfect And Not Making Mistakes
Most people believe that mistakes are a sign of incompetency.
As a result, mistakes are often not tolerated in leadership.
No one is above mistakes.
Hence, leaders are bound to make mistakes.
However, effective leadership entails that you learn from those mistakes and become better at what you do.
#Leadership Is About Doing Everything Yourself
Leaders are expected to take up responsibilities and ensure that everything goes smoothly.
However, this doesn’t mean doing everything yourself or micromanaging the team.
Being a good leader doesn’t mean taking the whole responsibility of the team to yourself.
Rather effective leadership is about guiding the team towards achieving set goals by recognizing everyone’s strength and delegating accordingly.
#Leadership Is About Bossing Everyone Around
Most people tend to see leadership as an opportunity to boss other members of the team around.
As a result, they sit around the corner, giving out orders without doing anything and making all the decisions without consulting the rest of the team.
While being a leader gives you a certain level of authority, this shouldn’t be mistaken for absolute authority.
Effective leadership is about earning your team’s respect through your charisma and leading by example, not commanding it.
#Leadership Is The Same As Management
Many people tend to think that leadership is the same as management.
Even more, most leaders tend to think this way too.
Leadership and management are two different things entirely.
However, they both deal with working with a group of people towards achieving set objectives.
We’ll find out more about the differences between leadership and management shortly.
There are a lot of things people think leadership to be which are wrong.
Even worse, most leaders also think this way.
These are just a few of the many misconceptions people have about being a leader and leadership generally.
Now, let’s discover the differences between leadership and Management.
The Difference Between Leadership And Management
What makes a leader different from a manager?
Here’s how leadership is different from management.
A Leader Works With Vision Whereas A Manage Works With Processes
A leader works by creating a vision for the organization that is in line with its objectives.
Thereby creating a road map for the organization to guide it towards achieving its goals and causing positive changes.
On the other hand, a manager works by processes that involve planning, organizing, staffing, cor-ordinating, and directing.
Through these management processes, the manager directs other people in the organization towards achieving set objectives.
Overall, while a leader creates a vision and goals for an organization, a manager ensures that this vision and goals are effectively executed.
A Manager Coordinates Tasks and Activities, A Leader Influences People
A manager aims to get tasks handled effectively through laid-out procedures and policies.
Hence, the manager’s focus is on getting the job done and may not necessarily care about the team’s growth.
On the other hand, a leader focuses not just on the job but also on the people.
Effective leaders understand that a highly motivated and educated team equals positive results that would take the organization to great heights.
Hence, they lead by influencing the team, motivating them, and instructing them to make them better individuals efficient at whatever they do.
Overall, the manager thinks, how can this task be completed quickly, while the leader thinks how can I develop my team to perform better at what they do.
A Leader Leads By Example; Whereas A Manager Controls His Team
A leader gets his/her followers to work towards the organization’s goals by being a good example of what he/she wants the team to achieve.
A visionary leader who shows passion, dedication, and commitment towards the organization’s goals can easily get the team to achieve the set objectives.
This is because the team is inspired by the leader’s level of commitment towards organizational goals.
Hence, they show the same level of commitment towards tasks and activities in the organization.
However, a manager gets the team to work by laying out policies and procedures that control how things would be done.
He/she does not necessarily need to do anything to motivate the employees to work.
Overall, a leader inspires the team to work while a manager instructs his/her employees to work.
A Leader Thinks Long Term; A Manager Thinks Short Term
Leaders can think long-term, visualize the big picture and determine the necessary actions that need to be taken.
This is why they can develop innovative ideas that can push the organization to greater heights in the future.
On the other hand, managers think short-term.
They think about the organization in the current scheme of things and cannot project its future.
Overall, leaders think long-term and can make flexible decisions that positively impact the organization, whereas a manager thinks short-term and sticks to the laid out procedure.
A Leaders Earns Respect Through Charisma, A Manager’s Respect Comes From The Position He/She Occupies
Leaders don’t demand respect.
They earn it through their charisma and impeccable leadership qualities.
True leaders inspire their followers to be the best version of themselves.
Hence, this earns them the trust and respect of the people they lead.
On the other hand, managers gain their respect from the position they occupy.
Managers are seen as part of the top hierarchy in the organization’s structure.
Hence, they gain the respect of the employees by the position they occupy.
A leader doesn’t need to occupy a top position to be respected.
However, once a manager loses his/her position, the respect also is gone.
Above all, a leader and a manager are both integral to the success of any organization.
This is because they both ensure that the organizations’ goals are executed effectively.
Now you understand some of the key differences between leadership and management; Ask yourself, are you a leader or a manager?
Having discovered the differences between a leader and a manager, it’s time to find out what makes a good leader.
What It Means To Be A Leader; Qualities Of A True Leader
This section centers on how you can go from being a leader to being a great leader.
Hence, some of the qualities of a good leader are;
This is one of the important qualities that makes a leader effective at leadership.
A good leader should have a clear picture of the future he/she wants to achieve, personally and for the organization.
Of course, how will you lead a team without a map?
A map tells you how you can get to your destination and helps you know when you get there.
This is how important a vision is for any organization/business looking to achieve success.
Hence as a business owner, you must have a vision for the business.
You should also be able to translate this vision to your team so that everyone understands their specific role in the big picture.
Consequently making you a great leader.
2Focus – Qualities of a Good Leader
Regardless of how big your vision for the organization is, you can easily get distracted and thrown off course without focus.
This is why focus is another important quality you need to have as a leader to be effective at leading your team.
Many things or trends, especially in the business world, come up every time; while it’s good to follow recent trends, it’s also important not to forget your primary goal.
As a leader leading your team, you need to understand the importance of staying focused on your set goals if you want to achieve success.
Consequently, making you a good leader.
3A Positive Mindset/Attitude
Part of the things that makes you a great leader is your mindset and attitude.
A positive mindset and attitude will keep the people around you motivated and happy, whereas a negative attitude would make the team unhappy and dissatisfied.
Thereby leading to low productivity and efficiency, which affects the profitability of the business.
Hence as a leader, you need to have a positive attitude such as passion, dedication, and commitment towards work.
You also need to maintain a positive mindset regardless of the negative situations or setbacks you encounter in the business.
This way, you’ll lead by example by showing the kind of positive mentality and attitude you want towards work in the organization and life generally.
Thereby making you a great leader.
Effective communication is one of the important skills needed to be a good leader.
Furthermore, effective communication is about possessing good speaking and active listening skills to pass and receive messages clearly.
You can’t be a great leader without being a good listener.
This is because people feel valued when they are listened to, and their opinions are respected.
Hence, to get the best out of your team, you need to be able to listen to them, accept feedback from them, and implement their ideas.
This way, they feel valued, you’ll gain their trust and loyalty.
Thereby helping you build a great team that’s productive and making you a good leader.
A good leader should also possess good virtues.
This is because it is what guides your actions as a leader.
Some of the virtues a good leader should possess include integrity, honesty, humility, discipline, resilience, empathy, transparency, accountability, etc.
Overall, the virtues you possess as a leader would give you the trust, loyalty, and respect of the people you lead.
Another quality you need to possess to be a great leader is confidence.
You need to be confident in your abilities as a person.
Also, you need to trust your ability to make decisions that would be best for the company.
If you doubt your abilities, how can you inspire the team you’re leading to believe in themselves and be the best at what they do.
More so, as a leader, if you lack confidence, you wouldn’t be taken seriously.
This doesn’t mean that you should be arrogant and self-absorbed.
More so, this is where the virtue of humility comes to play.
Overall, being a great leader means that you have the self-confidence to believe in what you feel is right for the organization and the humility to listen to the team members’ contributions.
7Innovation and Strategic Planning
Innovation and strategic planning are also key factors that determine the success of any organization.
Hence, as a leader, you need to possess these qualities.
You need to project new trends that would benefit the organization and make action plans to maximize those trends and make profits.
This is called forward-thinking, and it is a quality that would help you set your business/organization apart from the competition.
Part of being a great leader is taking responsibility for your actions.
This also means taking the fall for the actions of your team members.
It’s all about understanding that whatever mistakes your team makes under your leadership, you’re partly responsible.
Hence, rather than the blame and pointing fingers, you should be willing to take responsibility.
Whatever mistakes you make, take responsibility for them and learn from the experience.
9Keen Eyes To Spot Unique Talents/Strength
Furthermore, as a leader, you need to have keen eyes to spot unique talents and strengths amongst your team members.
You need to know who’s good at what and who can effectively handle specific tasks.
This is because you can’t possibly handle all the tasks in the organization all by yourself.
Hence, you’ll need to delegate most of the time.
To delegate effectively, you’ll need to give specific tasks to people who can handle them effectively.
Hence, the need to be able to spot unique talents among your team.
Consequently, making you a good leader.
Conclusion On What It Means To Be A Good Leader
Overall, these are some of the qualities that make a good leader.
You can work on developing these qualities to become a better leader.
Furthermore, good leadership is integral to the success of any organization.
This is true as we can see that many world-class organizations with great accomplishments are characterized by great leadership.
A classic example of this is Amazon.com.
Jeff Bezos has successfully led Amazon.com to great heights with his impeccable leadership style.
Hence, as a business owner/leader who wants to achieve success, learn great leadership skills by developing the leadership qualities mentioned here.
Before you leave, what other qualities do you think a good leader should possess?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below; we would love to hear from you.