Everyone seems to have an idea of what it takes to be a leader, who the best leaders are, what a leader is, what skills make up a good leader, and the list goes on. There are books lining bookstore shelves, eBooks available from top “leaders” in various industries, and people all over social media wanting to tell you how to become a leader. Why is this word so important, and what does it really mean?
To understand what the word means, the simple definition from dictionary.com can help. It states:
1. a person or thing that leads.
2. a guiding or directing head, as of an army, movement, or political group.
This is a very broad definition and perhaps the reason why so many people have the “answer” to what a leader is. The general concept is that a leader is someone who can take a group of some sort and organize them, inspire them, show them the way, guide them, etc… What this definition lacks is the reason why this topic is so important and why it has become central to successful careers.
There can be good and bad leaders. What people want are good leaders, and this is why this topic is important. It is not easy to be a good leader. You have to be passionate about what you do, or how can you possibly inspire others enough to guide them. A good leader needs specific skills that will help them to influence others, negotiate, and make good decisions. A good leader needs to speak well and to articulate their thoughts in a way that helps others to understand. A good leaders needs a vision and goals to reach for, and ethics and values to follow. The role of leadership, whether in business, politics, the nonprofit sector, policy making, or any other field requires industry or field specific qualities as well. There are so many aspects to leadership, and to find someone who embodies all of these traits is nearly impossible. There are natural leaders, but it takes work, practice, and skill to become really good.
As the job market slowly inches towards growth, the competition for jobs remains high. This is why it is critical for people to invest in themselves as leaders. The time it takes to develop skills necessary to manage a team, be a public speaker, or lead a group of people toward a goal can be indicative of a promising career. It is never a waste of time to improve oneself. In fact, just by building the skills necessary for leadership roles, one can gain confidence to aim even higher in their career goals. Whatever you believe makes a leader, it is undeniable that it is worth studying in-depth because people want strong leaders.
Tomorrow, I am going to explore a few leaders who have excelled in civil rights movements, business, and advocacy. By understanding what made these individuals succeed and have a lasting impact can help us to learn tools that could benefit us on our career path. Join me tomorrow as we look at inspirational leaders who initiated change or rose to the top.