Leadership is often pigeon-holed as a desired skill or attribute in the limited context of the workplace. While good leadership is crucial in organizations, it is also a human quality that should be nurtured in every person.
If you are thinking that not all of us can realistically be groomed be President, CEO, manager or team-lead, you are not wrong. The characteristics of the types of people to attain high profile leadership roles is a complex mix of personality traits and socio-economic factors, not to mention timing. But that’s not what we mean when we propose that leadership should extend beyond the boardroom.
Leadership is instrumental in achieving social change. All through history, whether it was for abolishing social norms, overcoming social evils or modernizing history, social change has been impossible without the right kind of leadership.
Something is terribly wrong with the world when we allow individuals who are openly misogynistic, racist and egocentric into power.
You only have to take a semi-good look of the current state of leadership in 2019 to realise that we are experiencing a serious leadership crisis. Even a wealthy and influential country such as the United States has fallen victim to dubious leadership practices. South Africa, with deep-rooted corruption at almost every government level and persistent pressures on equality, is also on the brink of a loss of faith in current leaders.
The danger of bad leadership today is that it can easily become a cycle that is difficult to break. Even leaders who are immoral have followers. The catalyst events of World Wars 1 and 2 come to mind. If we don’t change our views on leadership and what it takes to be a good leader (not money, influence or status) then we are in danger of being led by men and women who will lead only for their own personal gain.
Vital aspects of leadership
A leader’s values are what gains him or her followers. Therefore, integrity is a crucial aspect of leadership development in the future. While staying true to his her own values, a good leader makes decisions for the greater good. South Africa has one of the most modern constitutions in the world, a sure sign that our people’s values are sound. What we should be teaching is how to express these values in real life. For example: How do I demonstrate that I’m a proponent of gender equality? For many expressions of values, we have to work on being more emotionally intelligent.
An emotionally intelligent leader is an excellent listener, has the ability to meaningfully self -reflect and practices being a conscious leader daily. This means:
- Being open to feasible ideas and solutions other your own.
- Being tuned into your own voice of judgment.
- Being five times more appreciative than critical.
Millennials are at the forefront of a leadership movement. But the most visible part of this transition isn’t dominion over others, but rather leadership of the self: a higher need to self-start, self-educate and self-sustain. The idea is simply that your endeavours to become more in touch with who you are, what you’re capable of and what you want out of life.
Research has found that authentic leadership is positively correlated with a more positive work environment, including increased self-esteem, a better sense of well-being, increased friendliness, and better work performance (Grandey, Fiske, Mattila, Jansen, & Sideman, 2005; Kernis, 2003). People are naturally drawn to authenticity as it invites trust. Authenticity also ties in with values.
For this reason, leadership is not just for the board members. It’s a trait that can and should be nurtured in every person, regardless of age, gender or role in society.