What is Leadership?

Personal Improvement Tip submitted by Tech

A certain man was employed by the owner of a company to perform a specific task in return for wages agreed upon by both. After a while, the man became weary of this task and thought that the owner of the company did not appreciate the effort this man was giving towards that task. He decided that he would approach the owner to inform him of how much effort he had been giving towards this task and how he thought the owner did not appreciate his efforts.

The meeting went something like this:

Man: “I have been working for you all this time and feel as if I deserve more recognition for my efforts.”

Owner: “Our agreement was for you to receive wages in return for your performance.”

Man: “That is true, but I feel as if you do not appreciate what I have done for you.”

Owner: “Have I not kept my end of the agreement?”

Man: “Yes.”

Owner: “Then what is the problem?”

The man thought about this for a moment and decided to end the meeting without further discussion. He went back to his post and continued to work. However, the man could not stop thinking about how he felt. “Why, he thought, should I not get more recognition for what I do for this company? Why doesn’t the owner recognize my contribution to the success of this company? Doesn’t he realize how valuable I am? Doesn’t he realize how much the company would suffer if I did not work here?” And so it went for some time. The man came to work, did his job and went home. But as each day passed, the man became increasingly bitter towards the owner and he began to not care so much about his work. As a result, the owner began to notice that the man’s work quality was not as good as what it once was.

And so it went: The man becoming more and more bitter and disillusioned with his job and the owner becoming more and more dissatisfied with the man’s performance. Then one day, the owner happened to overhear some of his other employees talking among themselves. The owner could not believe what he was hearing!  These employees were considering leaving the company because they did not feel appreciated. The owner was confused. Did he not provide good wages for his employees? Did he not provide a clean and safe workplace? Why would they be upset?

The owner began to think back on his own career. He thought back to when he was starting out in the workplace and when he had worked for others. He thought about how there had been certain jobs he worked wherein he did not feel appreciated for his efforts. He thought about the places he had worked where, although he received a good wage, he was never fully recognized for his contribution to the company. It began to dawn on him that perhaps the issue was not that his employees were ungrateful but rather that he was ungrateful. He wondered if he had failed to fulfill one of the primary responsibilities entrusted to all leaders, i.e.: “A good leader recognizes and shows appreciation for the effort and work of those under his charge.”

This revelation caused the owner to begin to question the way he had been treating his employees all this time. He realized that his success was totally dependent on those whom he had come to take for granted! He vowed, right then and there, to not only change his attitude regarding his perception of his own importance but to also insure that ALL of his employees would understand that each and every one of them was a critical component to the overall success of the company.

True leadership consists of many different attributes. There are many leadership “styles” and many different methods of executing those styles but, you cannot lead if no one will follow! Like children, each person is unique in their needs. Some need motivation, some discipline, some encouragement, some guidance, and still others, only the occasional pat on the back. But, if any are to be considered “loyal”, each will need to believe that they are an integral part of the organization and that what they contribute makes a difference.

In our broken economy, most people will say that they are grateful for ANY job. But, that gratitude will only take them so far before they will “need” more than just a paycheck. It is up to the leadership to not only provide the paycheck but to foresee and try to prevent that person from becoming disillusioned with “just receiving a paycheck”.

How can leadership motivate and incentivize personnel? The first step is to “know” your personnel. Your frontline managers should be trained to recognize the character traits that reveal what the particular person “needs” to feel as if they are a part of the team. Is that person sufficiently self-motivated so they only need the occasional encouraging word? Or, is that person, although qualified for the position, somewhat timid and insecure and so requires regular encouragement? The savvy manager will recognize these variations in his personnel and tailor his management style to “fit” the particular person.

The second, and perhaps the more important leadership qualification, is to recognize that your team is what makes you successful. The very fact that you have personnel is evidence that you alone cannot accomplish what your company is currently providing. It is said that “No man is an island”. This is certainly true if you have people working for you. For without them, and the ever vigilant care of their “needs”, all the leadership qualities you may possess would be for naught, if you had no one to lead.

True leaders can be described as follows:

  1. Selfless – Effective leaders delegate and show appreciation for the work of others.
  2. Unpretentious – Effective leaders recognize their limitations.
  3. Serving – True leaders are servants.
  4. Thoughtful – Good leaders plan ahead.
  5. Humble – A good leader seeks counsel from others.
  6. Patient – A good leader must exercise patience.

As with most of life’s endeavors, leadership is a learned trait. Some people have personalities that lend themselves more readily to leadership but all successful leaders will tell you that their leadership success today was acquired through many different learning experiences throughout their lifetime.

So, keep in mind the six traits of a good leader if you want your team to follow you. Practicing the “art” of leadership based on these principles will help insure success in the leadership world.

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