Leadership – a word so often used and at the same time so much misunderstood. The first 20+ years of the 21st century have enlightened the meaning and mystery of leadership. We now talk so much about leadership than management that both concepts have turned into one for many of us. Some people see leadership as an upgrade to control, while others think both are opposite paradigms that can never exist. Following all that, managers are often described as punctual, rules-driven, and controlling-focused. At the same time, leaders are seen as value-creating, mission- and vision-driven people who can influence others to do their best while working toward a bigger goal. In the light of what people see as an outcome of leadership and management styles of achieving results, many researchers worldwide have focused on showing the bright side of leadership.
Many theories, research, and consultants worldwide make the fairy tale about leadership more attractive for people’s understanding and beliefs. But no matter the models, leadership gravitates around three primary components or pillars, helping it become closer to the heart and win among other styles paradigms. The three pillars are an excellent start to understanding leadership. Still, anyone who wants to understand the concept of leadership and work as a leader needs to dig deeper and constantly upgrade knowledge, skills, and attitude. No matter that, leadership can be easily understood as a combination of three fundamental pillars:
In the leader’s heart, we can always find his perception of the world. Leaders tend to have well-established values and understand the world and situations. There are many examples of how leaders’ perception changes company and values. Take, for example, Elon Musk, who believes that challenging work will always pay for itself, Jeff Bezos, whose drive is to take the world to the next big journey, or Bill Gates, whose belief is that people need to receive help to stay healthy and energized, or Jack Ma – the founder of Alibaba Group – whose understanding is that people need to have access to as many choices they can, so that the purchase they make will be the most informed and satisfying one. These perceptions define a leader’s values. No matter what a leader does, there are always these tiny definitions for their behavior, coming from his inner world and understanding how the world must be shaped to answer the leader’s needs and plans. At the heart of every leadership decision or strategy, there is a small set of values defining the leader’s decision and what type of drivers will be established to move the agenda forward.
Behaviors are something everyone talks about. But while ordinary people act more emotionally in different situations, leaders, on the other hand, act as a synchronized innovative machine. Behaviors leaders show must be deeply aligned with their values and perception of the world. No matter what happens or is meant to happen, integrity and alignment with values predefine a leader’s behavior. The leader knows how he will react to a specific situation and plans his actions and behavior accordingly. In an organized way and with a deep understanding of what a particular behavior can cause, the leader plans steps ahead for what he will do. Every step of the leader’s behavior is a sign of the environment of what is valued and what is not in the company. A leader who is not ready to align his actions and behavior with widely defined values and perceptions is doomed to lose people’s trust and loyalty. No matter the words he uses, people look deeply at what the leader is doing and what his body language shows. Many leaders fail in involving people to achieve outstanding results because their body language does not reflect what they demonstrate as behavior or say as words. That is why the level of aligned behavior can win or break the environment and the team.
Leaders are expected to bring purpose and direction to the team. They must work on showing others what the destination is. People are genuinely engaged if they see the benefits from a work done or behavior expressed. Different situations expect leaders to be flexible, but the most crucial task for a very leader is to show the destination. Defined results, described understandably, are critical drivers for boosting personal motivation and engagement. Everyone wants to reach a final goal that will make them feel like winners. And the leaders’ job is to predefine and communicate that destination correctly and comply with environmental and team specifics.
Many leaders struggle with their role because they do not understand it correctly. What needs to be clear when someone takes a leadership role is that this role is not for managing and correcting others but to empower them to achieve the best results through personal alignment with widely communicated values, clear, understandable, and accepted behaviors, and defined final destination.
Now: Where are you in your journey toward leadership? Can you define what you have achieved and prepare yourself to correct the other pillars you will need to work on? Do you dare to start your journey to become a better leader?