Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Are You A Leader

Leaders are self-made

Some say, "leaders are born not made", others say, "leaders are made not born " and yet there are some others who think "leaders are product of situations."

But I believe "leaders are self-made."

Leadership is an act of people; it's a function that we do. It is not a personality or a position but is something that we can learn and develop to a very high degree of proficiency and efficiency.

1. Leaders are product of situations

These situations may be sudden changes and requirements in society resulted by power struggles, violent revolutions, or a crisis. Many find themselves in leadership positions accidentally without preparation. They are product of circumstances. They happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Emergencies arise unexpectedly and a leadership position becomes vacant which has to be filled in. Some volunteer to fill this position while others are forced. There are some who become leaders through deliberate and calculated political, social, economic, religious and military struggles. They use threats, violence and pressure to become leaders.

Whatever is the method used they are product of a situation and after they become leaders they try to cultivate the qualities required to be a leader.

But this type of leadership is not lasting as the situation may change and the crisis may soon be over and then the leader becomes redundant. His success depends on the situations. He becomes an unpopular leader. Instead of people following him they will soon begin to chase him.

2. Leaders are born not made

This adage implies that people are born to be leaders and they have leadership qualities from birth. Aristotle says, "from the moment of their birth some are marked to subjugation and others for command." He is totally wrong.

If one is born into a leadership family one may become a leader because of the home environment and influence from one's parents who are already leaders. He also has a lot of ready-made opportunities and connections to become a leader. He is lucky to be born in a family where leadership is lived and talked about continually.

Kings and our present day politicians are best examples of this type of leaders. They become leaders because of favoritism or nepotism. Favoritism is one of the ways by which people become leaders in politics and business.

The negative effects of this type of leadership are many. They are never actually effective and efficient. The organisation is highly autocratic and is ruled by suspicion. Importance is given to loyalty and submission and not to efficiency and capabilities of people. These leaders are often inconsistent, selfish and hardly stand for truth and justice.

Leadership shouldn't be hereditary. If its hereditary its like a hereditary disease. A leader seldom relinquishes his position to someone outside his family and circle of friends, and these beneficiaries often don't posses the smallest qualities needed to be a leader.

3. Leaders are made not born

This adage implies that people become leaders through training. Leadership is a function that can be gained and acquired. Many companies promote skilled workers to become leaders. Many political parties choose their leaders who are talented and educated.

Sometimes people are elected as leaders as a way to honour them for
their exceptional accomplishments in a field. This too often fails because being the best in one field doesn't guarantee that they are good in every field of leadership.

A good worker can be a good leader if he is given training to become a thinker, innovator, influencer, and decision maker. Leaders are thus trained to meet the cultural, environmental, religious, political and social needs. They are trained and tailored to meet the local needs. Its true that training is a good way to make leaders as it helps them to become more responsible and loyal.

However these leaders depend on external factors for their effectiveness. They always look for appreciation and acknowledgement from their followers. Their strength comes from their followers trust in them and not from their own integrity.

4. Leaders are self-made

This is the best way to become a leader. Self-preparation is the key to effective leadership.

One may have plenty of talents but talents are not skills. Talents have to be trained and practiced to make them into skills. One may have a suitable personality, qualities that make for leadership, but one has to develop these qualities in a positive direction to become an effective leader. One has to learn to use one's qualities to get the best response from one's followers.

Self-made leaders constantly improve themselves and make themselves relevant and acceptable by accepting criticisms from their followers and competitors and by adapting themselves to face the present situation. They are ready to change according to the signs of the times.

They base themselves on trust and principles of life, the greatest principle being concern for other beings. They lead by example. Right examples are contagious and induces imitation in followers. Self-made leaders earn respect, loyalty and trust through their actions. He continuously reinvents himself and makes himself acceptable to his followers.

Being born in a leadership family, being thrown into leadership situations and given plenty of training to make you a leader doesn't form you into a leader. What matters is your active participation in this process. Just as a skill is self-made by continuous practice and use, leadership too is developed through continuous practice and use.

Leaders are thus self-made. They always find opportunities to build something new to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others.

Self-made leaders are great learners and effective communicators. They spend time in introspection to understand themselves, to identify their strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. They know what they want in life and why they want that in life.

Any one can be a leader. One only has to conquer one's fears and spend some time to become a leader.

Don't wait for situations and crisis to arise to become a leader. Don't pity yourself for not being born in a leadership family and don't wait for other people to make you leaders.

But you can do one thing to make yourself a leader. Take every opportunity to lead.

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