Interrogate the internet on business leadership and you will find a multitude of definitions, training courses, experts, celebrities and complex theories. On many occasions, I have encountered confusion between leadership and management. Many executives believe that rank, qualifications, responsibility and experience automatically confer a leadership status. This can be exemplified in the way that some executives interact with their co-workers – believing that leadership is about directing others in what they must do, punishing perceived failure and generating a fear “culture”. Conversely, we can all give examples of individuals who have inspired and motivated us to achieve high standards and to develop ourselves and encourage our success. Leaders use their authority to get others to do what they want because of their personal influence.

True leadership results from a way of being, something that others see in you, not as you may see yourself. In the simplest definition, a leader is “someone who is followed by others”. For others to follow, leaders must create a culture of inspiration, vision, direction and clear objectives. Many leaders inspire followers through example and often share the same values, beliefs and behaviours. Outstanding leaders are visible, open and trustworthy – if they can’t do what they promised, they will tell you why. They have a powerful commitment to succeed and have a clear and unambiguous vision for the future and a flexible plan of how to make it happen. Good leaders set challenging goals but work provide support and encouragement. They understand that to punish failure is unproductive and leads to demotivation, lack of creativity and a culture of repression. When things go wrong, good leaders encourage reflection and learning and inspire others to eliminate the root causes and prevent recurrence. .

Some points of wisdom
  1. Management is what we do, leadership is who we are.
  2. “What gets rewarded gets repeated” –give positive feedback and reward success.
  3. Create a shared vision.
  4. Practice 'servant' leadership – support your team – show willingness to do menial tasks if the team requires it.
  5. Build challenging and exciting goals
  6. Calm fears and give clear direction.
  7. Create a positive, “can-do” environment.
  8. Listen and act on feedback.
  9. Support and encourage change and flexibility.
  10. Lead by example: Live by high standards - followers will act on how you behave, not just what you say.
  11. Participate – engage with people at all levels of the organisation.
  12. Fear motivates but creates stress that removes creativity, affects problem solving and stops people learning.

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