It was on Monday morning, the students had assembled on the school playground for morning gatherings and announcements from teachers before the school day starts. Because of my visual inability to see far clearly, I used to take the front position. While all the students were gathered without the absence of any prefect, John came from the office running towards me. He came with the shocking message, "Justine, you need to lead the morning assembly because the prefects are attending the meeting with the headmaster" I felt as if those words were a knife that was cutting across my throat. Firstly, I was afraid because I have never been a leader at school. Secondly, I was afraid to face the crowd of students. The one question that was hitting my brain was, am I a leader? I used to see myself as a young boy who focuses on his studies rather than taking the responsibility of leading people. I knew some leaders were democratically chosen by the students and lucky enough, I wasn't one of them.
Probably, you have once experienced the kind of situation I faced some years ago at school. There are moments we have been told to believe that, leadership is only for those who have titles such as prefects at my former school. We tend to believe that leadership is for the selected few and not us.
Leadership is a service to others
Servant leadership is a concept that was established by Robert Greenleaf in 1970. The concept of servant leadership is based on the belief that a leader exists to serve the people. A leader should focus on serving others to grow and make them servants to serve others. This approach has been used by top-ranking companies in many parts of the world. The advantage of this approach is that it creates a strong bridge between a leader and the people he/she serves. This bond strengthens the unit and makes it easy for people to be served to share their ideas and challenges openly. Servant leaders believe in the mentality of "I am the leader because I serve "rather than "I am the leader because I lead". There is a sense of fulfillment and happiness in serving others rather than leading others.
The two characteristics of a servant leader;
· Their priority is to serve rather than to lead.
· They find strength and power in the growth of others.
Some of us probably have a wrong perception of leadership. Maybe, you think being a leader is having fancy clothes, speaking before the crowd, or commanding others to do what you want. Those are a few examples of wrong perceptions we have about leadership. We tend to believe there is a certain class of people with certain qualities who deserve to be leaders, and we are only followers because we don't have those traits we see in them. We are all leaders because we are alive. The only person who doesn't deserve to be a leader is a dead person. If you are reading this right now, don't hesitate to call yourself a leader, because you are alive and you lead your life to the direction of your personal goals, relationship goals, and financial goals. Leadership is a skill that can be learned and utilized for the good of others. Being a leader is about using your abilities, strengths, knowledge, talents, and internal motivation to ensure the targeted goals of the organizations are accomplished within a required time with the right resources and maximum efficiency. A leader is a symbol of a servant who obeys the goals of the organization and swears to accomplish them with maximum efficiency
A leader must understand where the organization needs to go and draw a map that can ensure the success of the organization. Leadership is complex as it has a lot of variables that must work together towards a common goal. It's not about title but serving others. The driving force of a leader is the ability to understand what the organization wants and the internal motivation that empowers him or her to link the right resources (human resources, financial resources, and material resources) and the right set of skills or knowledge. Every person is a leader but the difference is on the levels of leadership we find ourselves.
Levels of leadership
There are primarily two levels of leadership;
1. Personal Leadership
2. Organizational leadership
This is the backbone of leadership. It is the nucleus of leadership that decides who you are. Personal leadership focuses on understanding yourself and using your strengths, abilities, and talents to live a life that makes an impact on you. Personal leadership starts with making your bed early in the morning when you wake up, taking shower, and understanding who you are in terms of the talents you have, the weaknesses you have, and the goals you want to achieve. Personal leadership is all about making yourself the person you want others to see. Being a leader at a personal level makes you understand the person that exists within you. There is a great connection between what kind of personal leader you are and the life you are living. Your daily routine, lifestyle, kind of friends you have, the books you read, and the Twitter posts you share tell a lot about you. One question remains unanswered; are you a good leader of yourself?
The measure of a good personal leader is the relationship between his or her lifestyle and the goals he or she wants to achieve. Is there a good connection between what you do and where you want to be? The bridge that connects the current "you" and the goals you have is commitment. In his book of Atomic Habits, James Clear explains the simple principle to help us align our current lifestyle with the goals we have. The principle is simple; you are who you are because of what to do, if you want to be someone else then change what you do. If you want to be a good leader of yourself, start doing what good leaders do.
What do good leaders do at a personal level?
Good leaders at a personal level have three things in common; goals, systems, and values.
Goals are written visions that can be broken down into actions that can be implemented and yield the expected results. A goal without being written down is a wish. Wishes don't happen unless supernatural power intervenes, but goals happen because they have a system to follow. Wishes are goals without systems. A system helps a leader to understand what to do at the right time with the right resources so he or she can accomplish the targeted goal.
Features of a goal;
1. Goals must reflect your vision.
2. Goals must be written down.
3. Goals must have a time of being implemented.
4. Goals must be very specific and clear.
5. Goals must have a system to follow.
A system breaks down the big picture of a "goal" into simple actions that can be implemented easily and measured. One of the features of a leader at a personal level is efficiency and quality at whatever she or he does. The efficiency is not measured on writing the goals down, but on measuring the simple actions of the system that supports the main goal. A system must answer all the questions that are needed for the goal to be implemented. Creating a proper system contributes to the success of goals at a personal level. The success of a goal depends much on the efficiency of the system. For instance, you may have a goal of learning the piano or swimming. Your power to succeed in attaining the goal you desire is hidden in the system. Do you have a system that has a clear strategy to help you learn piano or swimming?
Another common feature of a good leader at personal level values. Values are standards that the leader sets for himself/herself. These standards have the power to decide the priorities of a leader, the events he attends, the Twitter posts he/she shares, the people he/she meets, the book he/she reads, and even the Netflix movies he/she watches. Values, goals, and systems should all focus on empowering the leader to live his life fully and understands the person that exists in him. The three aspects are integrated in a manner that if one fails, the whole system goes down. You can't separate your goals from the values, system from goals, or values from the system. They are all linked together by a chain. The strength of the chain that holds the three pillars of personal leadership depends on your clarity to identify your goals and an ability to create a working system that supports your goals and transform them into actions that can yield expected results with maximum efficiency and quality.
The next step after mastering the art of leading yourself is leading others, organizational leadership. Organizational leadership is the art of using the available resources of the organization to implement the goals of the organization. Organizational leadership is complex because a leader leads a team of people with great diversity (traits, beliefs, skills, personal values, interests, behaviors, and different levels of emotional intelligence) towards the goal of the organization. At this level, a leader has mastered the three pillars of personal leadership and has to connect them with the goals, systems, and values of the organization or a company. If you have a different set of values that do not correlate with the organization, there is a higher probability of the failure of the goals of the company or your personal goals. There must be a junction between your values and the values of the organization. Lack of common ground between the two sets of values will create a gap that will result in inefficiency in leading an organization. A person needs to assess his/her values before taking a leadership role in an organization. After the assessment, there are two possibilities;
There's a direct link between his/her values and the values of the organization or company: This makes a leader in a good position of leading an organization because of the perfect relationship between the two sets of values. It is not necessarily he/she will be a good leader but having common values with the organization is the driving force of success at a personal level and organizational level, it's a win-win situation for both sides.
There's no connection between the personal values of a leader and the values of the organization: In this situation, it is hard to lead an organization that believes in a different set of values from yours. There are two alternatives that a leader can make; the first one is to change his/her values so they align with the values of the organization and start leading an organization. The second alternative is to continue with his set of values and stop leading an organization. The two choices are all aright depending on the position of the company to the leader.
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