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Leadership beginnings

Updated on October 19, 2014

Leadership!

Well where do we begin?
Many attendees of our events will know our stand point on this.
Everything rises and falls on leadership.
Everything!

Your organisation will rise or fall based on its leadership.
Your Department will rise or fall based on its leadership.
This country will rise or fall based on its leadership.
Your family will rise or fall based on its leadership.
In fact, your church, your sport team, your hobby group will rise or fall based on its leadership.

In our opinion it should be the first thing you need to think about as soon as at least two people get together with a common objective. In fact, in some instances maybe leadership should be considered even before the objective has been decided upon.

Yet the concept of leadership is an indefinable one as some of the laws and principles of leadership seem to fly in the face of common opinion.
Too often true leadership is demonstrated with the exact opposite of what they think leadership is.
It is elusive and surprising and that probably explains why there are so few real leaders out there.
Leaders who lead. Leaders who lead followers, and by the way there is nothing demeaning at all about being a follower!
Every one follows something too. In fact it is often the best followers who make the best leaders – right there is our first opposite.
Think about it though, how can you hope to be a good leader if you have never followed anyone yourself, and been mentored by a good leader, and seen the examples of what leadership really is.
One thing is for sure: a non-leader cannot raise up another leader. It’s just logical really, in much the same way that a non-dog cannot give birth to a dog.

So maybe it is critical that we understand what leadership is because the world’s opinion has become distorted by ignorance.
Many people think of leadership in a way that is not leadership, the same way that many people think love is something that it is not.
Depending on the environment and situations one has been though people may regard a leader as a tyrannical, shouting bulldozer of a boss who forces his will on anyone in his path and rules with a rod of fear, breaking people down and putting them in their place, so that they can all see that he is their superior and that they should give him honour and respect.
Too often this is the case. But maybe this is understandably so, because if you think about it nobody really teaches leadership in a practical and understandable way.
Theory is one thing, practise is another.
Why didn’t they teach me this stuff at school?
Now before you protest, maybe they are trying a little harder in this area in more modern schooling systems.
Would practical leadership skills not have been a little more valuable to us in our life walk than having a detailed understanding of the Simon van der Stel and the Great Trek!
Now, I am not suggesting that the Great Trek was in any way unimportant, because a good way to gain an understanding of leadership is to study other leaders.

Where do great leaders go when they are out of their depth?
They go to other leaders! History is very important to us for leadership.
I heard that Mayor Rudy Juliano of New York on the night of the Twin Towers terrorist attack read the biography of Winston Churchill.
This makes real sense to me too.
Where else would you go to find the character and strength and leadership to lead a nation out of a catastrophe like that?
You turn immediately to other leaders who had to do the same thing.
What did they do?
What did they say?
When did they do it?
How did they go about it?
Who did they get on board to help?
And Did it work?
What should you avoid doing?

The chances are that with the lack of any other guidance that their path would be a good one to follow.
Don’t you think?

I am not going to be so bold as to try to define leadership, because there are just too many factors to take into account.

A leader needs to have courage, he needs confidence, he needs love for others, he needs humility, he needs dedication and persistence, he needs a hard skin and a soft heart, he needs wisdom, he sometimes needs experience, he needs a team, he needs a vision, he needs passion, he needs diplomacy, he needs faith, he needs forgiveness, he needs to be able to recognise leadership in others, he needs to know when to take a back seat and let others get on with it, he needs to know when to be up front representing the troops...
and I can carry on a lot longer.
And yet any one of these things on its own is not enough!
In fact even a large combination of these things might not be enough if a critical component is missing.

So maybe it is critical that we understand what leadership is because the world’s opinion has become distorted by ignorance.
Many people think of leadership in a way that is not leadership, the same way that many people think love is something that it is not.
Depending on the environment and situations one has been though people may regard a leader as a tyrannical, shouting bulldozer of a boss who forces his will on anyone in his path and rules with a rod of fear, breaking people down and putting them in their place, so that they can all see that he is their superior and that they should give him honour and respect.
Too often this is the case. But maybe this is understandably so, because if you think about it nobody really teaches leadership in a practical and understandable way.
Theory is one thing, practise is another.
Why didn’t they teach me this stuff at school?
Now before you protest, maybe they are trying a little harder in this area in more modern schooling systems.
Would practical leadership skills not have been a little more valuable to us in our life walk than having a detailed understanding of the Simon van der Stel and the Great Trek!
Now, I am not suggesting that the Great Trek was in any way unimportant, because a good way to gain an understanding of leadership is to study other leaders.

So does this line of thinking leave us a little despondent about leadership?

I hear you thinking “I don’t know if I have ALL those things, can I ever be a leader?
Am I even good enough?”
well I’m glad you asked because even though we may agree that leadership seems very complicated and daunting.
We can take courage in the fact that it can also be simplified.
Dr. John Maxwell put it best in my opinion when he said “Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”.
That’s it.
What?!
After the long list we’ve just been through....

Yes, if you influence someone else – you are a leader.
If anything that you do or say causes someone else to seriously consider changing their ways and doing things differently – you are a leader.
Its just like SUCCESS isn’t it?
You’re closer than you think! If you a mother to a child, you are a leader.
If you nurse others back to health you are a leader.
If you are good at doing anything, you could show someone else the way.
In fact you don’t even have to be that good, you just have to be better than someone else, then you could lead them.
If you have any influence at all you are a leader.
Now it just comes down to how do we refine those skills to be better, so that our sphere of influence can increase.

The good news about leadership is that it can be learned.
It is a skill, not an art.
Basic principles can be learned and followed and leaders are created.
However, a leader can also never stop learning.
Most of the people we really admire as leaders, people we consider strong, good leaders are invariably people with at least a shelf full of books on leadership, expertise and soft skills.

This nation and this world is desperately in need of more LEADERS.
Lets help fill that gap together and enjoy the journey.

Author: Paul Johnson, Motivational Speaker, Leadership Coach and M.D. of Movers & Shakers, a Motivation & Team Building company in South Africa.

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