What is Leadership?

Definition of leadershipWhether you are looking for someone to run an organization, a development team or a board you are probably considering what skills you require, and what kind of leader do you need.

What Makes a Leader?
Presumably, you want a leader who is capable and has vision. But what makes someone a leader? Is it a specific skill set that they possess? A charisma that charms so effectively? An aura that projects strength and confidence? Yes, yes and yes. A manager can deal with a situation, a leader inspires others to respond.

You know if you have had a leader at your helm. We long for the advice from a leader. We accept the advice from a manager.

Reality-Based Leadership

According to a recent article in Fast Company, Fighting the Facts — How’s that Workin’ for Ya? “The average leader spends two hours a day arguing with reality, an argument you will surely lose 100 percent of the time.” What does that mean? Every time you hear “if only the board chair would do more,” “I have more work than I could ever accomplish,” or “why doesn’t anyone else care as much as I do?” someone is wasting time fighting reality.

The Baby Boomers, as well as Generations X and Y tend to be focused on themselves. In work, this often clouds one’s perspective to see a situation as to how it will affect their personal workload but this is detrimental for the individual as well as the organization. Accepting reality and quickly moving on with the situation at hand will move the organization forward and gain back those two hours.

Focus-Driven Leadership
Executives, managers, staff, and volunteers are usually excited and, at the same time, quite afraid of a new leader. Will the person be good or bad for the organization? What will it be like to work with her or him? Is my situation going to be better or worse?

First, please refer to the section in the Fast Company article on Reality-Based Leadership. All employees could benefit from focusing on the here and now and less on the possibilities.

Secondly, ensure that the new leader has a clearly articulated path for the organization to follow. This may change in six months or a year, but that uneasy feeling can be put to rest by stating a vision by which everyone can determine where he or she can fit. A transition in senior management can decrease productivity at every level, therefore a new leader’s role is to create a bridge into the new reality and establish a comfort zone.

Your Leadership
This article poses the question, “what makes a leader a leader,” and begins to outline a significant component of the answer. If you are looking for more information or advice on the importance of reality-based leadership and its value for your agency, contact Mersky, Jaffe & Associates. We want to ensure your organization reaches its full potential.