by Craig H. McFarland, Mayor, City of Casa Grande
What is leadership? We all believe we know what it means to be a good leader, but when it comes to defining the concept, the picture is not so clear. For some, leadership is motivation; for others, it equals results. It can also represent inspiration.
We define leadership based on common elements. Here are 10 ways to define the art of leading:
1. Vision – Leading means having a vision and sharing it with others. Only when you inspire others, is it possible to share a common goal toward directing the efforts and dedication of the entire team.
2. Motivation – A leader knows how to motivate better than anyone else; it is one of his or her main functions as people managers. Through motivation, a leader channels energy and professional potential to achieve objectives.
3. Serving – The leader is at the service of the team, not the other way around. Group members must have and feel the support of their leader. The tools needed to do their jobs properly must be available to them. They must have recognition for their efforts and know there is a person paying attention. That is all part of leadership that serves the team.
4. Empathy – One of the basic qualities of any leader seeking success is emotional intelligence — an often innate ability that makes leaders put themselves in the place of others, understand their concerns and solving problems. Leaders know the secrets of their businesses and can empathize with customers and team members. That empathy inspires and establishes links that ultimately lead to success.
5. Creativity – Good leaders create an environment that encourages all members of their team to develop skills and imagination so they can contribute to the common project and vision of the organization. Lead successfully by respecting the creativity of others and learn from them; their ideas will surely prove to be positive for you.
6. Thoroughness – Good leaders set the bar high for their people, because they want to reach goals and bring out the best in their teams. Only a demanding leader will achieve great results. In addition to thoroughness, the leader must know how to listen to understand the needs of the people and then provide the necessary time and resources for them to do their job properly.
7. Managing – The leader must be at the forefront to lead and guide his or her team throughout the whole process until the goal is reached. Besides being that “torchbearer,” leaders also know when to step back and encourage their team to take the initiative. In this way, the team develops both personally and professionally. Pure management focuses on the tasks; real leadership focuses on the people.
8. Team building – True leadership is about working as a team to reach a common goal. People management is one of the most difficult tasks faced by leaders. Thanks to the positive attitude — essential in good leaders — and trust in their co-workers, leaders get better results. Team-aware leaders take responsibility when something is wrong and reward the group after a job well done.
9. Taking risks – Leaders are responsible for taking risks others are not willing to take. They are confident enough to make a decision. If they make a mistake, the leader must have the courage to rectify, assume responsibility and choose the right path without blaming it on the team. Good leaders see opportunities where others can’t, and they know how to spread enthusiasm for their vision.
10. Improving – True leadership seeks continuous improvement. Leaders turn their team members into stars as they improve and develop their skills.
In short, the definition of leadership has nothing to do with the hierarchy or anyone’s position within the organization; it has nothing to do with imposing views, but it’s about listening to those who know. Leadership is the attitude assumed by those looking for something different. They are committed to achieving a goal with conviction, which is transmitted to others through enthusiasm and optimism.