In the spirit of the upcoming 2016 election, let’s talk about leadership. Don’t worry, this is not a political exposé or anything of the sort. Rather, it is important as emerging professionals, who represent the future of our industry, to take a look at ourselves and those around us and consider what makes a truly effective leader.
Leaders come from a variety of backgrounds, have different leadership styles and unique characteristics that make them stand out from those around them. There are so many factors that have the potential to make a successful leader, but I believe that at the most fundamental level, leaders are people called upon to make those around them better.
I would propose to take this a step further: a great leader not only makes those around them better, but empowers them to accomplish things that they themselves may not have even known they were capable of. Someone that sits at the top and tells people what to do is not necessarily the one steering the ship and making the greatest positive impact. Instead, that person should act as a talent evaluator, identifying the greatest strengths in a person and empowering them and guiding them to further develop those traits. This all sounds well and good, but the same question always arises when this topic is brought up: where do you find people like this?
Most of the time, leadership positions seem to be filled by the people that stand up and offer themselves up to the responsibility. These are the people that command the room when they walk in and speak up in order to make their ideas heard. These are the sorts of people that are most obviously turned to when the question of “who should we have as the captain of this ship” is asked. However, as was pointed out earlier, some of the best leaders find ways in which to empower others into taking on roles and responsibilities that they may not even know that they are ready for.
If we only pull our leadership from the same mold, we generally keep moving in the same direction that we have always moved. Maybe it’s time we looked at the less obvious choices and consider ways that we can make others better and, in turn, make ourselves and our companies better. The best leaders may not be the loudest or those who wave the biggest flag. The best leaders are those that empower others to become better.