The average person is said to influence over 10,000 other people in their lifetime. Influence is found at every level of an organization—-CEO and executive management team, division and group-level managers and employees. We are all capable of influencing others; but do our actions reflect leadership?
Think of someone that was a great leader. Some of the skills that enabled them to be an effective leader might include: being motivational, confident, comfortable with ambiguity, flexible, tolerant, respectful of others, good speaker, exceptional communicator and so on. Most of the skills would be “People” skills as opposed to “Technical” skills. Technical knowledge relevant to the job as well as knowing how to get the job done is important for success. However, without “People” skills, it is difficult to become an effective leader.
Too much attention, generally, is given to the position, rather than to the function of leadership. But once rank assumes importance for its own sake, the very essence of leadership is lost. Leadership is the process of giving energy (or influencing). This process of giving energy (or influencing) is most evident in leaders that are comfortable viewing their role as a simpleservice to others.
A good leader knows that nothing can be gained by crushing others. Even if a leader is older, more experienced or has the support of others, the effective leader has the distinct realization that he/she is not any more important than the humblest follower. This humility is also the essence of service along with the aforementioned talent for people skills (whether they are inherent or learned).
Serving others is not being subordinate to others. Service is the understanding that people are important. By raising others up and helping them to be successful, we are exerting influence on them whether it is a conscious act or not. Bill Gates said just prior to the turn of the century, “As we look into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” There is no better way to empower or lead others than through service.
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