At the end of every journey we look for signs and signals that we have arrived. If true leadership is your goal, how will you know when you’ve reached your destination? What are the distinguishing signs and signals that mark a true leader?
One distinction that is important to make is between leadership and authority. Authority is bestowed upon you. It comes by virtue of a title, a position or an official designation. Leadership by contrast, grows from within. It is a set of characteristics that define the kind of person others rally around, listen to, look to for guidance and accept as a role model.
In some cases, authority and leadership are separated. When the person with authority lacks leadership, the organisation suffers. Success and improvement are elusive. Unless a true leader emerges to keep the organisation on track, it may fail altogether. Without leadership, no business, non-profit organisation, academic institution, government body or any other kind of organisation can thrive.
Ideally, however, authority and leadership should go together – and in many well run organisations they do. The best organisations have powerful leaders in positions of authority as well as many other individuals with strong leadership traits scattered throughout the ranks. Some of these Unknown Leaders will eventually rise to their own positions of authority whilst others may remain in more modest roles, quietly exerting the power of leadership to enhance the quality, productivity and integrity of everyone around them.
If you are currently in a position of power, congratulations – you’ve been given an important responsibility for the future of your organisation and the people whose lives it touches. Now you must make sure you are developing your leadership qualities to the utmost, so that you can live up to the responsibility you’ve been given.
If you are not yet in a position of authority, now is the time to start your journey of self-discovery. It’s a journey of preparation, aimed at discovering your leadership capacities and developing them fully. You want to be ready for the moment – it may arrive tomorrow or 10 years from today – when you are called upon to lead, when the future of your organisation lies wholly or partially in your hands.
But this leaves the unanswered crucial question: What, exactly, is this elusive quality we call leadership? Is it possible to define and describe it in a specific language?
Over the coming 6 weeks, I will share with you, lessons learned from my own life time journey, made me believe that, there are a list of 6 attributes that captures the crucial characteristics of a leader. Join me next week to learn about the first – VISONARY. Until then, please feel free to send any questions you might have or discussions on this topic to make this blog as interactive and engaging as possible.
Hussein A. Al-Banawi
Chairman & CEO
Author – The Unknown Leader