Leadership is a very complex process that involves communication, planning, decision making, motivation, as well as several other key elements. It is a capacity to influences others to accomplish a goal or objective, and directs them in a way that makes the group more unified. In its basic terms, leadership is about the ability to inspire trust, loyalty, commitment, and create cohesiveness among team members. Dwight Eisenhower probably encompassed what leadership is most concisely when he said, “Leadership is getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it.”
There are different theories about leadership and how certain people become leaders. Some people possess characteristics or traits that will help them become an effective leader. Valuable personal traits are inbreeded in individuals such honesty, respect, self-motivation, perseverance, and caring. These attributes will help a person in a leadership role become more successful. While it is true that some personality traits may lead people naturally into leadership roles, this in itself does not make them an effective leader. Effective leadership is a combination of personal traits and developed skills. Ultimately, leadership is about behavior.
Many times effective leaders have very different personality traits. There are two views of human behavior; Theory X and Theory Y. Although they are on opposite sides of the spectrum, both of these behavior types can make proficient leaders. The reason is because they learn skills that allow them to persevere. If a person does not have many of the personality traits that are viewed important for a leader, they can still become an successful leader by developing leadership skills.
Skills are derived from both knowledge and experience. Skills such as goal setting, teambuilding, and communication are ones that need to be developed. These do not come naturally, but are acquired through continual work and study. However, leadership is not simply learned from reading books or articles. Leadership skills come from doing and practicing. Aristotle once said, “What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing”. It is essential to practice a skill in order to become proficient at it. This is especially true with leadership.
Exceptional Leaders are not born, they are made. They develop through an endless process of education, training, and experience. The more time a person spends learning and applying leadership skills the more effective leader they will become.