In society today, leadership plays a distinct role in nearly everything we do. Influences from our family and friends, direction from our supervisors, and opinions derived from sociological events all stem from some form of leadership. Unlocking your potential culminates when leadership characteristics and traits are understood and applied to all aspects of life. Of course this task isn’t easy, which is why society is so diverse in the pecking order of measured success. Developing leadership strategies can play an important part in ensuring successful business practices that can lead to financial freedom.
But what exactly is leadership? The answer in the dictionary is “the ability to guide, direct, or influence people” Encarta Dictionary. I believe the true definition is slightly expanded. Leadership is the ability to influence others to accomplish a given task with minimal guidance, future influence, and further instruction. Both definitions are very similar but with my expanded version, continued interaction with the “leader” is minimal. Applying leadership in this sense ensures thorough guidance and influence is provided initially, ultimately requiring less interaction while empowering individuals to think through and solve problems independently.
Leadership style plays an important role in how we influence others, and how successful our leadership strategy will be. There are four distinct styles to provide solid leadership, all of which have unique characteristics that can be applied in specific instances based on personalities and other human factors. Autocratic, democratic, free reign and a combination of any comprise the makeup of these four methods. The autocratic style is used when leaders explain what they want done and how they want it accomplished without getting any advice from their followers. This style is best applied when you have all the information to solve the problem, you are short on time, and your followers are highly motivated. Autocratic leadership is easily abused when practiced too frequently or when there is opportunity to use a democratic style instead. Using a democratic style involves the leader including one or more followers in the decision making process while the leader maintains the final decision making authority. This method actually displays a sign of strength that followers will respect, although inexperienced leaders consider this method a sign of weakness. It is best to apply this method when the leader has part of the information and the followers have the other parts. Using this style allows the followers to become part of the team and allows the leader to make better decisions. Free reign allows the followers to make the decisions while the leader is still responsible for the decisions made. It is used best when the followers are able to analyze the situation and determine what needs to be done and how to do it. Leaders should ensure that this style is not used to lay blame on others, but rather when the leader fully trusts the followers. The fourth style is a combination of the previous three and is clearly the best style. Different situations call for different styles, often times requiring a blend of all three leadership styles.
Developing a leadership strategy requires analyzing and applying the leadership styles described above, and determining the appropriate application of each. However, along with leadership style comes two different approaches to leadership. Positive leaders use rewards such as education, independence, etc. to motivate their followers. Negative leaders emphasize penalties. While the negative approach has a time and place for implication, it must be used carefully due to its high cost on spirit and willingness to comply.
It is important to realize that leaders do not rely solely on one style or one approach. Good leaders find a balance that allows them to practice all three leadership styles and both approaches. People who continuously work out of the negative with one leadership style are bosses, while those who primarily work out of the positive with multiple styles are considered real leaders.
Using leadership styles and approaches to leadership discussed above will help you establish and enforce clear strategies to becoming a successful leader while developing you as a lucrative entrepreneur. There are many different strategies to effective leadership and they should all be considered. Forward thinkers who are anticipating problems while remaining armed with solutions make the strongest leaders.
Strategies in leadership are vast, but some of the basic principles to just a few of these strategies when applied specifically to business practices can increase potential and ensure success.
Effective Leaders master their time. Effective leaders are relentless about clearing items off their to-do list. What's more, it helps them control their time. Once a focused leader decides that what is in front of him/her is important, they will focus and deal with it. If it takes 90 minutes instead of the scheduled 60 minutes, then so be it. This habit can be frustrating to others, but it makes a major difference in a leader's effectiveness. Critical conversations and transactions are consistently brought to closure. Result? Fewer matters remain unresolved and leaders are free to focus their attention elsewhere.
Effective leaders balance and separate work time from personal time. This skill is important because it allows leaders to establish a clear and distinct difference between work and relaxation. Applying this practice will improve your ability to lead, and improve your own productivity.
Learn that fewer words speak louder than long dissertations. Junior leaders often feel compelled to expound to great lengths on their ideas and theories. Express enthusiasm for solid ideas while keeping improvements to yourself can sometimes boost confidence to levels that self-correct areas that need improvement.
It is a common belief that leadership is genetic and not learned. In basic principle, I believe this to be true. Solid leadership involves charisma and the force of personality. These personal characteristics are definitely not easily taught to anyone. A natural leader will always emerge in a group, and followers will naturally fall in line behind a dynamic leader possessing the qualities of leadership. But key to note is that leadership can be developed.
Over time, good leaders become better leaders through implied learning and experience. Developing skills that enable a leader to provide purpose, direction and motivation while implementing all three leadership styles and a combination of leadership approaches is the key to being a leader that leads vs. a leader that rules. These skills come naturally for some, but can be improved continuously by all. Applying solid leadership skills in the development of your own personal leadership strategy will enable you to succeed and your business venture to prosper.