By traditional definition, leadership is “the action of leading a group of people or an organization”. This can be applied to business, religious, social, and family structures. Traditionally, leaders are individuals who map out a direction and a framework in which a group of people or an organization should go. While this is all true, it doesn’t really drive in what leadership actually is.
While there are many types of leaders and leadership styles, I want to truly focus on the core reality of what leadership really is rather than how some choose to approach it. In its true reality, leadership is defined as “the action of providing opportunity to others to achieve self-worth, happiness, and personal growth.” This can be found at all scales and levels of relationships.
Whether it’s a CEO leading a large company of 500 employees, or a mother leading her children in manners, creating opportunities to obtain happiness through self-worth is really what leadership is about. In reality, everyone is a leader, and they lead every day. Unfortunately, this doesn’t come so easily.
The Challenge of Leadership
Unfortunately, no-one’s perfect and we all are emotional creatures. Emotions such as fear, anger, despair, jealousy, anxiety, pride, and all their siblings are typically what get in the way of success. Although it’s okay to experience these emotions as it means you’re normal, it is not okay to act on them. While practicing leadership, you have to find a way to overcome these weaknesses and continue providing opportunities to others.
Overcoming this challenge and developing positive traits, believe it or not, is the easiest part of leadership. The hard part is helping others with it, especially if they don’t fully see your vision. The traits of a leader are pretty easy to list, as we all have an understanding of them, based on what we look for in a leader for ourselves.
While there are many skills that can and should be associated with a leader, I just want to clarify a few.
- Integrity: Simply, keeping your word and “doing right by others” when you don’t have to.
- Loyalty: The willingness to suffer for those who follow and trust in you.
- Passion: The ability to push past doubt, fear, and other obstacles with the belief in something greater will come.
- Courage: Standing up or pressing on when you do not see the “light at the end of the tunnel,” nor have any idea when you will.
The Practice of Leadership
Regardless of the scale of leadership you are in, it takes practice and it will forever take practice to overcome the challenges of leadership. This can only truly be done through exposure. Mistakes will be made. Mistakes are good, it means you’re trying. It means you’re practicing courage from the fear of failing.
There are many opportunities to develop your leadership skills. They are all unique to each one of us based on our own strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and experiences. Look for these opportunities. And practice them despite what you fear you may lose from it. The reward is not usually instant, and may take some time. The strength you gain will carry you further and faster than you every could have gone without it.