People often want to know whether leadership is learned or is it innate? Well it’s actually a combination of both. Everyone is born with an ability to be a leader, but knowing how to demonstrate leadership is learned. Inside every person is a raw unformed leadership ability; only life circumstances will foster its development in a more apparent style or a hybrid of several. When people are unable to define and discuss the purpose of leadership, its because this concept is often referenced without having first been explained. Within this brief discussion, leadership is defined as the knowledge, skills, and behaviors that are demonstrated for the purpose of influencing others. Although individuals are ultimately responsible for determining what type of leader(s) they will follow, here are four ways to promote the growth of anyone demonstrating their innate responsibility to be a leader:
- Tell them “You’re a leader”
The most important, which is also the simplest, approach to bring out the leader in anyone is to tell them they’re a leader. People’s self-image is developed through the combination of how they talk to themselves and how they’re viewed by others. At this point, you may have asked yourself, “What type of leader am I?” In light of this self-examination, here’s a brief synopsis of six leadership styles in which researchers conclude that people use to influence others: 1) the “do as I say, not as I do” coercive type, 2) the “teamwork makes the dreamwork” authoritative type 3) the “you are smart, you are kind, you are valuable” affiliative type, 4) the “I’m down for whatever everyone else wants” democratic type, 5) the “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” pacesetting type, and last but not least, 6) the “here’s how you can do that better next time” coaching type. Parallel to there being several different ways of getting people to do what you want; people adopt a leadership role for different purposes. Self-evaluate which above-mentioned statement(s) you embody, then present these statements to others in order to adopt a style reflective of how you would like to be viewed.
- Enhance their strengths
Although people find different social issues, hobbies, and work-related skills and responsibilities interesting, passion is always the mediator in one’s decision of whether or not to be a leader. When people are unable to do what they want in life, they are unlikely to demonstrate their leadership due to discouragement and frustration. In fact, the longer someone works in a dissatisfying position/role, the more s/he is terribly remiss in his/her work performance and service to others. Appropriately, much needed time and energy should be directed toward investigating people’s natural and desired abilities. Accordingly, understanding the needs of others is the quintessential principle of leadership. To recruit supporters of one’s causes, it is necessary to cater to his/her supporters’ needs for transparency as well as, to maintain clear and consistent advocacy efforts. To that end, its vital to understand what rouses a person’s emotions to the point of them demonstrating their propensity for positively influencing others.
- Reframe their perspective
People who have never considered themselves to be a leader have more reasons about why they aren’t one than the reasons why they are and should be a leader. However, it’s important to recognize that the necessary conditions for someone to demonstrate their innate leadership varies across individuals. In any given situation, people can decide to be or not to be a leader. For example, consider two possible scenarios wherein someone must work with others who are not as diligent in completing assignments on time. In scenario 1, the student gets frustrated and dreads work with her/his classmates, worsening the group cohesiveness. Consequently, s/he may end up earning a grade that is less than what was possible due to a lack of assigning appropriate leadership roles. In scenario 2, the student understands that people have different strengths and areas of growth. As a result, s/he ask her/his group members what part of the assignment they would like to take responsibility for completing. Here, the student only needs to understand that everyone can lead different areas of the assignment for the benefit of overall group cohesiveness. Reframing every task as an opportunity to demonstrate leadership will compel people to be invested in anything that needs to be done.
- Model ethical leadership
During difficult circumstances, people sometimes make irresponsible decisions or fail to make decisions at all when others are around, which is also known as a diffusion of responsibility. However, people’s innate leadership responsibility is to always take advantage of opportunities to positively influence those around them. Modeling ethical leadership, making decisions that will influence others based on what you consider to be right and wrong, is one such way of inspiring others to be a leader. Figuratively speaking, the best test of a (wo)man to determine whether or not s/he’s a leader is his/her ability to create other leaders. In this way, one will also gain insight into his/her leadership style based on the leadership style cultivated in others. By convincing others of their leadership by assigning responsibilities as well as by mentoring, we grow the number of ethical leaders in our world and develop ourselves into more effective leaders.
In summary, leadership is what you make of it: we determine how it looks based on what we think of others. Leadership can be implemented constructively or destructively depending on one’s goal. These four ways of bringing out the leader in anyone are best applied with self-awareness, perseverance, empathy, vision, and active listening skills to help people become ethical leaders based on our example.
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 Mostovicz, E. I., Kakabadse, A., & Kakabadse, N. K. (2011). The four pillars of corporate responsibility: ethics, leadership, personal responsibility and trust.Corporate Governance, 11(4), 489-500.