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What is Leadership

To gain respect, give respect.

To be really successful you will need other people. You will need to lead them, but what is leadership? We hear the term natural born leader, but is it something you have to be born with? I believe that leadership is something that can be learned.

There are many attributes a good leader must have, I will try to cover most of them here, throughout the page you will see bold or linked highlights. Not all leaders will have all of these, but the more you have the better you will be at leading people. Please note that I am not talking about dictatorship here. Dictatorship controls people through fear and coercion, this will work for a while but it does not have the power of good leadership. People are not objects for your use, give them the respect and dignity they need.

As an example take a look at an army general. If he relies only on the force of command then his soldiers will probably follow their orders but not very willingly. They will not fight as well and eventually it could lead to desertions. On the other hand a general who also has the respect and trust of his troops would have an army with pride, they will follow his orders willingly. History has many examples of small dedicated forces overcoming much larger ones.


Basic Leadership

What would make somebody want to follow you, what is leadership. Obviously you must have somewhere to lead them to, see How to Set Goals. There must be a good reason for going there or doing that, Purpose.

Do you really believe in what you want to achieve, Passion. If you don't believe in it nobody else will.

What is in it for them? You must have an understanding of what they need or want. It may be your greatest passion to be successful, if you can't show other people that it will help them, then you will not have any followers. What is leadership without someone to lead?

Continual Communication will be needed. To gain the followers you will have to tell them why they should follow you. Then they will need directions and assurances along the way to the goal. People will seldom blindly follow, if they can't see where they are going you will have to show them.

How much can they trust you? You will have to be very open with them, Honesty is very important. Even when something goes wrong you must let them know, if you have been a good leader then they will help you overcome the problem. It takes a lot to build trust and very little to lose that trust.

You must trust your followers. There is no point in having followers if you don't trust them enough to do their part. The old saying about 'if you want something done right , do it yourself' is not very workable when you are looking at what is leadership. You will have to trust that someone else can do it right, they may not even do it the way you would, but it is still right.

If you never trust other people to do things then you will have to do it all yourself, hard work, and there is no point in having followers. You may have the occasional disappointment but as a general rule when a person is shown trust they will do their absolute best to keep that trust.


Courage

Many people think that they would like to be a leader but do they have the courage? When you take on leadership you are taking on the responsibility for other peoples lives to some degree. If someone gets hurt, physically, financially or emotionally because they followed you then it is your responsibility.

It might be easy to say that it was their own fault, they made a mistake. Now look more closely, why did they make a mistake? Did you fail to train them properly, did you supply the right instructions, the right equipment. Perhaps you overestimated their abilities or underestimated the task. Your first action must be to look for anything that you did wrong, because that you can correct.

You are never fully responsible for another persons life. For example, perhaps you have shown them a way to make money but they just don't do the actions needed, well you can hardly force them. Even so you should see if you explained it correctly, supplied the help and support that they needed. Maybe you failed to fire their enthusiasm enough. Only when you have honestly looked at your actions can you comfortably release your responsibility.


Decisions

A good leader should be decisive and confident. Decisive means making decisions, you can not sit in indecision. Check out all the pros and cons to the best of your ability, then decide and get into action. Be confident in your decision, doubt is only another form of indecision and will only result in a lowered ability to get the job done.

If your decision was wrong then it was wrong. Have the courage to stand up and say "OK people I made a mistake there, this is what we should do." If you have always been honest with them then you will gain even more respect for being willing to admit your mistake. People know that mistakes can be made, just make sure that you are right more often than wrong. About the only mistake you can really make here is to not decide in the first place. Also see Self Control.

What is leadership? Well you have to lead. Whether you are a foreman in a factory or the head of a great religious movement you must be out front. It is your drive and control that will keep things moving. Be ready to take the hits if something goes wrong, then you can honestly take the rewards when things go right.

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