Effective Leadership Skills - What makes a Leader?

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Yeah right, I know the Feeling....


If reading the title of this hub made you sigh, grimace or smile wearily you are in the right place. There are countless Leadership theories, books, courses, seminars and workshops with their own brand of leadership wisdom promising to make the ordinary extraordinary.

If you are not in a position of power or have the possibility of rising to a position of power you may not ever consider looking at Leadership skills. You may think leaders are only born rather than made. You may think all these quacks peddling their leadership wares are snake oil salesmen/women.

Believe me, I was the same. Every time I attended a seminar due to my work commitments, the air was so thick with cliché and jargon that I was choking on ennui. Until one day, I came across a model that helped me realise everyone can develop leadership potential and skills even if they have no intention to lead a group or an organisation.


I met the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, at No: 10 Downing Street for leadership in Primary Care.  A proud moment of my life.
I met the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, at No: 10 Downing Street for leadership in Primary Care. A proud moment of my life. | Source


I now have the privilege to lead a successful Educator team, a primary care partnership that looks after over 5000 patients and to be involved in executive decision making at a level that I would've never considered possible based on my previous lack of confidence in myself.

If anyone had told me some years ago that I would be leading in any shape or form, I would have been the first one to laugh them off the room. Having been brought up in relatively humble circumstances,while I did dream - I didn't dare to dream that far!

Few years ago I was granted an audience with our then UK prime Minister Tony Blair, at No:10 Downing Street for exhibiting qualities of leadership in healthcare and education. It was one of my and my family's proudest days. I know this sounds rather self indulgent to give out this information, but I am merely illustrating the point that I really didn't consider myself a born leader and I surprised myself.

Or is it that I had some innate skills in connection and communication, courage and compassion that are fundamental to a leadership journey?

Are leaders born or made or a bit of both?

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

- John Quincy Adams

I realised all along I was confusing potential with positions. There is nothing wrong in developing a Leadership potential even if we don't contemplate to be in a Leadership position.

It makes us grow in experience and expertise, makes us better at self and people management at work or better still, at home...

Confusing Position with Potential....

When I grew up, Where I grew up I had no desire to be a leader. I thought that was a position for the rich and influential, the powerful and the political. I was studious but quiet and introverted. I was happy to be a team player at school but never a leader.

I realized all along I was confusing potential with position. I realized soon that there is nothing wrong in developing a leadership potential as it makes us grow in experience and expertise, makes us better at self and people management at work or better still, at home.

These skills sets can help in every day interactions and decision making, they can help us achieve success and peace in our life without ever needing to take on the mantle of leadership. Of course, should you enjoy developing these skills and do choose to step up and lead, the world will be your apple, too.

Here I am, sounding like the very snake oil salesman I was accusing others of being!

Well hear me out; it may be fifteen minutes of your life well spent. If nothing here sparks a productive thought, at least it was free to peruse! This hub is based on a talk I gave to bunch of professionals last year...

Leadership can be thought of as a capacity to define oneself to others in a way that clarifies and expands a vision of the future.

- Edwin H. Friedman

The problem with innate skills and traits that we are born with or have developed is that we need to personally identify them first.


We need to label, foster, reflect, review, enhance, edit, combine and contextualise these skills to be able to put them to good use...

Who or What is a Leader?


Authentic leaders are ordinary people able to draw on extraordinary talents. They are prepared to bring all of themselves to work, to stand up for what is important and to adapt appropriately to meet new situations.

And Leadership itself can be described as

  • An act that causes others to act or respond in a shared direction


  • An Art of influencing people by persuasion and example


  • A force that motivates and co-ordinates the organisation/team/family in the accomplishing of its objectives


When we put it that way we begin to realize there are lot more leaders around than we give people credit for...

Lets also remember that leading is not the same as managing. Leaders can be managers but not all managers are leaders.

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My personal view is that while not all of us want to lead, learning leadership skills makes us more effective followers too.

It also helps us to realise hidden potential, gives us the confidence to grow some of those and even dare to step out of the comfort zone to overcome personal uncertainties when an opportunity presents itself.

Born or Made?

Most people view leaders as being ‘born’ rather than ‘trained’ and view leadership as an innate quality that is difficult to replicate or assume. This is perhaps true in some great leaders where a combination breeding, family up bringing and the possession of some fundamental characteristics that is ripe for seeking out a leadership role. It is perhaps also helpful to have the right connections at the right age that lead them to a path of glory.

But this is not the only truth.

It is now clear that Leadership traits can also be learnt, adapted and put to good use. Almost all of us have natural archetypal skills & attributes that reflect a facet of leadership but may not realise it and reflect on these.

The problem with innate skills and traits that we are born with or have developed is that we need to personally identify them first. We need to label, foster, reflect, review, enhance, edit, combine and contextualise these skills to be able to put them to good use.

My personal view that while not all of us want to lead, learning leadership skills makes us more effective followers too. It also helps us to realise hidden potential, may give us the confidence to grow some of these and even dare to step out of the comfort zone and overcome personal uncertainties when an opportunity presents itself.


Lets reflect on what these potential qualities can be....

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Which of these skills/traits do you think is most important to have as a leader?

  • Intelligence
  • Knowledge
  • Charisma
  • Decisiveness
  • Judgement
  • Initiative
  • Creativity
  • Communication Skills
  • Integrity
  • Self-Confidence/ Influencing
  • Social Skills
  • Courage
  • Compassion
  • Organisation
See results without voting

Reflect and Respond....

Have a think of those traits/skills, make a list of which of these you possess strongly and which areas you think you may need further development.

In the next chapter we will seek out some theories of leadership and how we can develop those areas we may find ourselves not so strong on...

Thank you for listening!


© Mohan Kumar 2012


Rainbow over Canaries - I loved the way the rainbow ended in the road sign pointing down as if to the pot of gold!   © Mohan Kumar 2012
Rainbow over Canaries - I loved the way the rainbow ended in the road sign pointing down as if to the pot of gold! © Mohan Kumar 2012 | Source

Thank you and see you soon!

I hope you enjoyed this discussion on leadership skills.


Please do leave your comments below and don’t forget to vote.

If you liked what you read do visit the other hubs and share with your friends or family onFacebook,Twitter or other social networking sites. There are buttons below for ease of use.

I appreciate your attention and do come back for the next chapter.

Thank you.

Docmo

Copyright © Mohan Kumar 2012

Docmo (left )  with Previous UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, at No: 10 Downing Street. It was for leadership in Primary Care and Education. A proud moment of my life.
Docmo (left ) with Previous UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, at No: 10 Downing Street. It was for leadership in Primary Care and Education. A proud moment of my life. | Source

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Comments 36 comments

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

Whoo hooo, Docmo-meeting Tony Blair and having a photo to 'prove' it, haha. Seriously, kudos to you and they picked the right gentleman for this assignment.

Well written and interesting hub. Voted up and across except funny. Beautiful photos and I was the first to take your poll. Great job.


Linda Bliss profile image

Linda Bliss 4 years ago from San Francisco

Some brilliant points about leadership - and you've made a real effort with the photos and the layout too! Voted up and shared...


rahul0324 profile image

rahul0324 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

Brilliant hub!


Razia Asad profile image

Razia Asad 4 years ago from Tripoli , Libya

Extraordinary!!!....Congrats Docmo..for your achievements and good wishes for the future assignments..Your hub is actually inspiring me to write one of my own.... :) the pics have added to the worth of your hub..Keep it up..!!


Florida Safety profile image

Florida Safety 4 years ago from Orlando

Very nice.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

@Denise, thank you so much- I felt a bit like I was self-indulgent putting those pictures up!! It was merely to illustrate my journey to acquire leadership skills- If I can do it anyone can! really appreciate your comments and feedback.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

@Linda- really nice to hear from you. I loved your ace hub on retail techniques and the way your layout and design is something I love doing too.Thanks!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

@rahul0324- thanks very much!

@Razia Asad- I am delighted you like this and the fact that you're inspired to write one of your own. Can't wait ot read yours- thanks very much!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

@Florida Safety- Thanks!


Arlene V. Poma 4 years ago

VOTED UP! Wow! We can all learn from your Hub. There is so much to leadership, but many people aren't willing to take this road. But when all you can do is follow, you will always be at the mercy of the leader. Why not have it so you can be part of the decision making?


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Docmo, I know you are a brilliant inquisitive mind, and possess all the qualities of a leader, but I still believe that great leaders are born. And, yes, it's the nature vs nurture dynamic at work and I believe that our parenting influences us, too. However, we cannot learn intellect. I would argue that even qualities, such as compassion, motivation, discretion, courage, and diplomacy are innate or not. Those intellects that lack the capability of true human connection (Mitt Romney as an example), despite the bucks to pay the best teachers at the best schools, are incapable of learning it at gut level. They can fake it, miserably.

In voting, I choose courage as the most important quality. It takes great courage to stand for what you believe, all other things aside. A leader must have the backbone to live by the courage of his/her convictions. Being swayed easily (different from reevaluating) shows weakness and is seen by others as such, (flip-flopping), and does not command the respect a true leader inspires.

This is a fascinating topic, Docmo, written by one who personally knows the qualities of leadership. Knowing this, I should shut up, but knowing your open-minded interest in all opinions, I am counting on your compassion in excusing my stubbornness. I respect you and all that you do to the utmost.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Arlene, really delighted that you enjoyed this hub - I agree with you that there is so much to leadership skills that we could all learn from it - even if we choose not to take on leadership roles. The skills are like buying a toolkit and keeping it in the garage- only deploying them effectively when need arises! Thank you!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Dear Amy, I realized after reading your comments perhaps I had implied that leaders are 'not' born but are all 'made'. As always your brilliant mind offers a wonderful debate.

The 'nature' vs nurture dynamic always crops up. Many scientists believe that we are all 'born' the same fundamentally. However it is also likely at some genetic level certain abilities or traits can be passed down generations. The formative years, opportunities, parental influences, family dynamics, passion to better oneself, education, literacy, confidence, courage are all essential steps to recognizing potential.

When we talk about innate skills neuroscience is now advanced enough to tell us that many people are born with all the right equipment required for high intellect but the lack of nurture, lack of stimulation, misguided paths can hide all this ability too.

But I agree with you- 'great leaders' almost always seem to be born leaders. They always seem to have had charisma, courage, compassion and communication that seems to take them to great heights.

In the next chapter, I discuss the various theories of leadership and one of them is called the 'trait theory' that does say certain personality traits can lend itself a lot easily to leadership roles.

But the point I am trying to make here ( and thanks to you I have gone back and edited the paragraph to make it clear) that almost anyone can learn 'leadership SKILLS' through a process of learning, self reflection, practice support and coaching like any other skills that can put to good use everyday - this may not necessarily make the great leaders but certainly gives them a shot at it.

Thanks for your insightful comment and helping me clarify my point better. I am always learning. I never profess to be the expert but more of an enthusiast.

Really appreciate your visit.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

Docmo, I believe you were a born leader and you certainly are a gifted teacher. Very interesting and informative article. I worked as an ADON for three weeks. It was not for me. I was bored working in an office, so you see it is not for everyone. Thank you for sharing...


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Ruby, Bless you for saying that. Maybe I was but I never believed that before. I am not sure what an ADON is - is it a religious leadership role? a Master? Did you go into it voluntarily ? Because leadership experiences can be a mixed bag for all of us. I have certainly been involved in working with teams where the overall experiences was unpleasant usually due to a variety of factors. I suspect that doesn't make you any less a leader as I am sure you are a great leader at home and in other situations... Thanks for visiting.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

My view of leadership is skewed on an emotional level that is actually separate from the ability to lead. When I see the picture of Hitler, I realize that leadership is not necessarily morality based. It makes me wonder if the leaders are not more symbolic of those that endow them with their power, rather than their leaders qualities. If you ask anyone in the German army why they perpetrated Hitler's madness, they would say "They were just following orders"; not that they believed in Hitler or his ideas. This says more about the followers than the leader and changes the dynamics of what encompasses leadership for me.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

There is no denying Hitler could command armies who blindly followed the orders while sacrificing their own morality- there is an element of mass hysteria - bu there was no mistaking that evil though he was - he was a master of propaganda, misguided passion and persuasive communication. Like anything else leadership can be used for good or bad. I am trying to make a distinction between leaders we know of and leader'ship' skills. the latter is important for all of us n all walks of life.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

An ADON is an assistant director of nurses. I am an RN and used to working with patients. I took the job because of the increase in salary. I soon found out that i was not happy sitting at a desk..Cheers..


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

I know the feeling- I am like you- I am not made for desks I love being in the frontline. Thankfully my associate directorship involves a lot of hands on teaching, visits and I can still balance it with clinical contact. It's a shame that some director ship is tied down by red tape and report writing. You'd have made a dynamic activist in another role - some jobs are poorly designed I think.


Amy Becherer profile image

Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

I wonder how "crazy" factors into the risk taking element comprising leadership? I cannot fathom the mass hysteria incited in a majority of the German populace by one crazy man that resulted in the abject cruelty and genocide of a huge group of people. Where was the intellect, integrity, and human compassion of the people who followed the orders of a maniac and were able to kill millions of Jews? It was as if Hitler was a hypnotist, not a leader and his followers were spineless lemmings, unable to think for themselves. I'm getting off topic, I know, Docmo. I realize that even Ted Bundy would qualify as having leadership qualities; "crazy", but he was able to "lead" his prey into his web. And, I certainly won't dispute the advantages of incorporating leadership qualities into every life. Thank you for giving me something to ponder.


Skip Murray 4 years ago

Fantastic. This is clear and for those who spend time with it and settle and think on it, they will realize they are more than they think they are, assuming, of course, they are not thinking that way about themselves already


farmloft profile image

farmloft 4 years ago from Michigan

Very interesting. I voted for decisiveness because followers can't or won't decide to do something ahead of the crowd. I believe that is one of the biggest differences between a leader and a follower - yes, you do have to have the courage to carry through, but first, you have to be able to make the decision.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

@Skip - Thank you very much. You are right about realising hidden potential. A lot of these skills are made to look like they are unreachable when in fact most of us possess in them- only in different settings.appreciate your feedback.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

@farmloft- thanks for your visit and feedback. I agree that being decisive is a key factor for a good leader. There have been many groups I have been with where everyone looks at someone else to make the decision- they don't want to take ownership. A good leader will have braid enough shoulders for confident and consultative decision making.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

I recognized your intellect and leadership capacity long ago, Mohan, but it's very nice to have it confirmed. A pnoto-op with Tony Blair - what a nice keepsake for you and your family. They must be extremely proud.

Much of what you have documented in this exceedingly well-written leadership hub are the facts and nuances of leadership that I employed to coerce leaders and emerging leaders in order to enhance their present skills and abilities. I will be looking for more eagerly. Thank you. Voted up of course.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Dear drbj- your ability to mentor and coerce leaders is evident in your collection of hubs too. You are a great communicator with a fantastic sense of humour. Your charisma shines through in your writing too. I am not surprised that you were able to inspire many wannabe leaders.

Thanks you, as always, for your visit and comments, my friend. And thank you for your resounding endorsement about my writing abilities at Becky's hub. Much, much appreciated. A very large drink on me if I ma on that side of the pond ( or if you, here)


wordscribe43 profile image

wordscribe43 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

WOW! What a spectacular hub, not only content-wise, but also in aesthetics and presentation. I'm going to have to see if I can get my husband's boss and upper management to have a look at this hub... I'm telling you, they need some help. Ticked all the boxes and voted up.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Hi wordscribe43, I am delighted at your wonderful comment and am really happy you found this useful and aesthetically pleasing. Part II is on its way....much appreciated!


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

How inspiring! It's awesome how your change in perspective has led to such wonderful achievements.

I especially appreciate the way you contrasted characteristics of managers and leaders- many people don't consider those distinctions. Great Hub!


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Thank you Simone. It felt odd disclosing personal information ( like I was bragging!) but I felt it was relevant to the point I was trying to make. I agree it is is important to contrast managers and leaders and people often mistake these roles. Appreciate your visit and comments!


melbel profile image

melbel 4 years ago from New Buffalo, Michigan

Wow! I saw that HubPages tweeted about this hub and so I came here to check it out. It's absolutely fantastic. I love how well you put it together! You definitely weren't bragging, but I know how you feel (I read your last comment.)

This hub is a great read. Thank you for sharing your experience. :)


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

@Melbel- thank you very much. I was quite pleased to be tweeted about too. Nice of you to visit and comment. Really appreciate the feedback.


cardelean profile image

cardelean 4 years ago from Michigan

Fabulous hub Docmo! I wish it hadn't taken me so long to get over here to read it. You have some amazing information outlined in your hub. This is a great guide for those striving for and those perfecting their leadership roles.


Vellur profile image

Vellur 4 years ago from Dubai

Anyone who reads this will sure be inspired to be a leader and believe that they can do it. Great quotes and insights. It must have been cool to meet Mr. Tony Blair . You should be proud and pat yourself on the back!! Great work, voted up. Loved the John Quincy Adams quote -truly explains leadership.


Docmo profile image

Docmo 4 years ago from UK Author

Cara- thank you so much. Glad you liked the info here. appreciate your visit.


KDuBarry03 4 years ago

Very brilliantly weritten and very informative. I for one think communication skills are necessary because a true leader must know how to talk and gain an understanding from their followers/supporters. Any intelligence could be underminded if the leader does not know how to communicate it thoroughly and appropriately to their supporters :)

Great hub, Docmo!

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