By Betty Wababu
CEO & Chief Trainer
Wabcom Ventures (a corporate training and business consultancy company)
Leadership is currently one of the most talked about issues in business and organisations. It is hard to turn on the television, open a newspaper or attend a conference without coming across numerous references to leaders, leadership and leading.
Unlike the mistaken belief in the past, it is now clear that leadership is not about a position. It is about the roles and responsibilities of a person. We have too many people in leadership positions, but they lack the necessary qualities.
Leadership is the capacity to translate a vision into a reality. It is unfortunate that many leaders today lack the vision of the organizations or institutions they stand for let alone the capacity to articulate the vision to their followers.
As Kenneth Blanchard puts it: ‘The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority’. I cannot agree more. When a leader is effective, that is having the ability to influence, authority follows without having to be forced. People willingly give you authority to lead them as long as you influence their lives positively. The impact such a leader leaves in the lives of their followers earns them unmatched authority.
A good organizational leader has the ability to know when to put on the leadership hat and when to be a manager. Both of these functions are critical for organizational growth. As a manager, the focus will be to manage systems, procedures and structures. On the contrary, a leader’s focus should (and always need to) be influencing, motivating and guiding people. As John Maxwell puts it, leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them.
I strongly believe that leaders should always seek to create new paths and leave a trail instead of always wanting to follow a path that someone else created. Anyone can be a leader. This happens when one chooses to do an ordinary thing in an extra ordinary way. Giving your best and refusing to be accept mediocrity. Leave a trail of excellence and before you know it, you are a leader.
Being a leader is a great responsibility. A good objective of a leader is to help those who are doing poorly to do well and to help those who are doing well to do even better. This in essence means that a great leader is not obsessed with herself or himself, but with his or her followers’ growth. All great leaders have had one characteristic in common: the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. So, it is not about the leader, it is always about those that you are leading.
I need to point out that leadership cannot just go along to get along. Leadership must meet the moral challenge of the day. Leaders influence through their lives, leadership styles, mannerisms and anything in between. It’s indeed a moral challenge. I believe that without good morals and initiatives, leaders are simply workers in leadership positions. It is unfortunate that this is what is popular today. However, being popular doesn’t make it true or right.
In conclusion, to be a great leader, create a path where there has never been one, leave a trail and influence positively those who come into contact with you. Of vital importance, be a leadership legend even if it means being different.
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