By: Steve Scaffidi, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
As we begin the long slog to the November presidential election for the next leader of the free world, you may be asking yourself, what does it really take to be a leader? The dictionary defines a leader as a person who commands a group, organization or country. We all know people who serve in leadership roles because of the title or the position they hold, and while respect and admiration is certainly a byproduct of that authority, both of those feelings can certainly be generated independently of any traditional roles or expectations.
We've all also probably seen more than our share of so-called leaders who stumble along or fail miserably, and are often propped up by the work of other people, usually on the low end of the pay scale. Politics is probably the best demonstration of that – whatever happened to the expectation that these folks are the best and brightest – but there are plenty of other examples where a title is supposed to be followed up with a skills set that includes inspiration, vision, wisdom and integrity. But those are rather nebulous terms; what's really required?
You certainly don't have to be an officially recognized leader to be considered one. Think about people you know, work with, or that are part of groups or organizations you belong to. Are there certain characteristics that define them?
Leading by example is an action that demonstrates to peers, co-workers, family members or community members that you have what it takes when leadership is called for. Leadership during good times is generally fairly easy, but as difficulties emerge, and tension and stress levels increase, a good leader calms the situation, bringing resolution instead of indecision. Great leaders bring a forward-thinking focus that doesn't let bad news slow them down, instead driving them to problem-solve and innovate, essential skills of real leadership.
Communication is also one of the key must-haves if you want to be considered a thought leader, one of those people who others look to when challenges arise. Can you digest and communicate complex or difficult problems in an easy to understand manner? Developing talent and encouraging participation in the process is one of the most enriching values that real leaders demonstrate. Building a team that works together, exceeds targets and reaches new heights is the mark of someone who inspires leadership. Do you have what it takes? Start practicing today, and see what happens.