Leadership might seem like something that doesn't apply to the majority of us as we go through the 9-5 routine, perhaps quietly unhappy with things in our workplace, or even in our community, but reluctantly accepting these things because we feel powerless to change them.
But effective leadership isn't just reserved solely for those in charge in the workplace or in a community, it can be achieved by anyone with passion and determination to a cause or to make a change.
Passion and positivity are infectious, so if you set about a challenge with enthusiasm and a 'can-do' attitude you will find that people are naturally drawn to you. Understanding and humility are also crucial in encouraging people to connect with you and your cause. A humble attitude and the willingness to admit to, and learn from, your mistakes will be popular with your followers and the ability to understand and support their needs, wishes, concerns and ambitions will make them feel involved, listened to and valued.
The most important characteristic of a leader is the understanding that their job is to serve others, not the other way around. What matters to them? How can you help them achieve their potential? And what is your shared vision? Leadership is inclusive not exclusive. Listen to everyone and use their skills and strengths to best advantage. Give everyone a chance to grow under your leadership and they will reward you with their loyalty.
The shared vision is a clear philosophy shared by everyone in the organisation or community. It gives a sense of identity and purpose - what we do/ why we do it/ what do we offer/ what is the message we convey/ what is our goal or vision. Things work much more smoothly and effectively when everyone understands the vision or philosophy and the leadership should inject enthusiasm and encouragement when times are difficult or people are struggling. A great leader will praise people emphatically for a job well done and blame quietly when necessary. Good leadership instils values into people and allows and trusts them to take ownership of a role whilst offering guidance as necessary. A great leader can understand a persons strengths and weaknesses (including their own) and will place them in a role where they can flourish and use their skills to optimum effect.
Communication is critical for effective leadership; listen, consult, involve and explain why as well as what needs to be done. In a large organisation or group communications and the philosophy should be filtered down from the top, ensuring that everyone feels connected and involved with the organisation . Leaders should set a good example to others, by implementing and upholding the values and working methods they put forward.
These tips from respected business leader and writer Jack Welch sum up the qualities and practices of a good leader:
1) There is only one way - the straight way. It sets the tone for the organisation
2) Be open to the best of what everyone, everywhere has to offer. Transfer learning across the organisation
3) Get the right people in the right roles, it is more important than developing a strategy
4) An informal atmosphere is a competitive advantage
5) Make sure everyone counts and everybody knows they count
6) Legitimate self-confidence is a winner - the true test of self confidence is the courage top be open
7) Business has to be fun - celebrations energise an organisation
8) Never underestimate the other guy
9) Understand where real value is added and put the best people there
10) Know when to meddle and when to let go - this is pure instinct
These points are aimed at directors and managers but you can find ways to apply them to your own situation and what you wish to achieve, for example - point 3 - if you feel that you're not in the right role, or your strengths and skills are not being utilised, raise this with a manager, they stand to benefit from better applying your skillset.
It can be hard if you are at 'shop-floor' level to feel ownership of your role or company. But by injecting passion into your job, filling yourself with knowledge about your company, customers and role and by setting a great, positive example to others, you will find things begin to change.