How to Develop Leadership
Leadership is the ability to inspire and direct people successfully in various activities. Successful management of major corporations and large non-profits often depends on great leadership. We know leaders when we encounter them. But what is leadership? And how does one become a leader? Review the steps below required to develop leadership qualities and to be successful in the management of other people.
Learn What Leadership Is
There are a number of competing theories of leadership. But leadership traits seem to be centered around drive, character, intelligence and self-confidence. Of these, character (honesty, integrity, moral virtue) is the most critical. You can actually work on and improve all four critical traits, despite the belief of many that intelligence is a genetic trait. Young children especially can be shaped by learning and adult example.
Cultivate Intellectual Qualities That Leadership Requires
Children especially need intellectual stimulation (not pressure) from the time they are toddlers to develop the intellectual curiosity and keen intelligence that leaders need to be successful. The core skills that make up intelligence and intellectual curiosity include verbal abilities, math literacy (“numeracy”), a love of reading and learning, and emotional intelligence. As parents, teachers, coaches and mentors we need to learn how to motivate the behaviors that produce these qualities and be positive role models for others.
Cultivate the Motivation to Achieve
Children and adults need praise for things done well and constructive criticism for tasks done poorly. They both need to learn how to behave well and work toward excellence whether in a group or alone. Patient coaching is required over a long period of time until people, especially children, internalize standards of excellence, persistence, and productive behavior that are the foundation of leadership. We need to teach children (and many adults) how to do tasks well and how to cooperate with others. Over time, achievement will be less dependent on external rewards and should become internally motivated.
We need to help others, particularly children, develop good character, not only because it will make them happy, but because it is the most powerful characteristic of successful leadership. A leader is only credible to the extent that he or she is honest, objective, and trustworthy. Help others develop character by teaching and modeling what the ancient Greeks called the moral virtues, which are excellences of human character. Teach others about behavior that is just, temperate, courageous, and prudent. These qualities are displayed by great leaders. Who wants to follow someone who is unjust, intemperate, cowardly or rash, or imprudent?
Help develop self-confidence in others by encouraging them to undertake tasks and jobs for which they are well prepared and likely to be successful. Leadership and self-confidence are based on many experiences of success in managing projects or leading others well. Help others to succeed in these ways to develop their self-confidence.
Don’t put too much pressure on children to succeed or be leaders. Just help them be the best they can be and develop good moral character.
Sometimes leadership is situational, that is, determined by who has the most knowledge or experience relative to some objective being achieved or problem solved.
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