Over time, diverse theories on the concept of leadership claimed that it was something inherent to certain individuals, who are already natural born leaders. However, those studies have been evolving and, nowadays, they confirm that a leader is made, not born. This is corroborated through numerous researches and essays which have proved that personal skills can be learnt and developed at any point during our lifetime. Leadership is learnt, developed, shaped and improved every day. It’s just a matter of perseverance and practice.
To know oneself
Although it may not seem so, everybody has the ability to influence other people. The only variable is that each one does it differently. Because of that, finding out the knowledge, skills and attitudes we have is the best way to transform and enhance our leadership qualities and, eventually, put them into practice.
The development of corporate leadership, in particular, can be defined as the process through which an individual is capable of optimizing and having an influence on the performance of a team, guiding and leading their efforts to the achievement of those goals set by a corporation.
However, the first thing to take into account in order to be a great leader is to have a good knowledge and understanding of oneself, especially regarding own strengths and weaknesses. This will help finding out which aspects should be trained and worked upon and which qualities must be acquired or enhanced so as to improve and become the leader you aspire to become. In those cases, seeking help from a coach or mentor in order to set your objectives straight and guide your way can be extremely positive.
Knowledge, skills and attitude
The three main concepts around which leadership development will be focused on are knowledge (what the leader knows about something in particular), skills (what the leader does and how does he accomplish a task) and attitude (the predisposition of a leader when confronting a given situation). It’s useless to have plenty of knowledge if we don’t have the adequate skills, as it is not viable either to have a lot of skills without the right attitude.
Knowledge is provided to us by education, expertise and observation. And regardless of his position, the leader must be up to date with everything related to its company (usual procedures, technology utilized, people in the team, customers, shareholders…), as well as the market in which the company operates, the trends in the sector, and the competitors´ performance. This is the only way to stand out and influence a team, eventually.
Skills could be many, but they can be summarized in just around ten. In order to lead it’s essential to have influence on a group of people, as is to identify the learning needs regarding self-realization of each one of them. Knowing how and when to delegate and assign duties, having an strategic vision of the environment so as to make suitable decisions and take appropriate actions, knowing how to solve and mediate conflicts or having an effective and dynamic ability to communicate and listen are other virtues a good leader must possess. In addition, analytical dexterity, organizational and planning skills and self-control and tolerance under pressure, as well as being capable of guiding the group towards meeting the objectives set beforehand, are also a must.
Finally, the ideal profile of a leader should meet three life requirements: flexibility, positivity and enthusiasm to adapt to changes, overcome daily challenges and spread a dynamic spirit onto the team; perseverance and determination to face difficulties and strengthen problem-solving capabilities; and ability to find chances and opportunities where others don’t.
In essence, it can be categorically stated that leading is not an easy task. To accomplish goals through others requires time, effort and determination, apart from being able to absorb knowledge quickly and adapt to changes so as to acquire new competences and further advance in your career. Therefore, it’s important that the company is on board with the idea of continuous training and willing to invest on resources, since all of this will have positive impact on its performance eventually.
Sources: EAE Business School, James MacGregor Burns, Universidad Benito Juárez, César Piqueras