Leadership is Art. Art must be learned. I have noted with interest that if leaders shy away from learning, errors are bound to happen and leave followers frustrated. Leadership by error come to play. Leaders must understand different types, styles, philosophies, models and theories of leadership.
It is imperative to employ a different style/s for a different situation/s and/or different people or groups (i.e. If you were once a supervisor in a firm where people are making clothes and you get to be a supervisor in a highly professional environment , you need to change your style . Your style must suit the professional group of people that you are now leading. You cannot lead in a professional environment the same way you led in an unprofessional setting. Learn the art of leading!
The group that you led in a firm have a different cognitive understanding and a way of working than a group in a professional setting. Even in a professional setting you may have to employ different leadership style/s. You will find different people with different attitudes and temperaments. There are people who need 100% supervision and there are those who need less supervision or no supervision at all. There are people who behave like adults and there are those who behave like kids.
This is where your art of leadership comes in. This is where you need to strike a balance between management and leadership. Good leaders work SMART. They endeavour to move away from management to leadership. They empower their followers to manage and lead themselves. If your followers can lead themselves without more supervision, then you get to move from playing the role of a manager and begin to play the role of a leader. Producing more leaders or duplicating yourself is a milestone every leader should strive for. Once you have achieved this (Leading more and managing less), be rest assured that you are beginning to master the art of leadership. Leaders must grow in the Art of leading.
The word Art means:
- Systems of principles and methods employed in the performance of a set of activities.
- A skill that is attained by STUDY, PRACTICE, or OBSERVATION.
A leader has a set of activities to perform. It is therefore important that in those set of activities, systems, principles and methods must be employed. One of the most important things that leaders must do is to continue to learn the art of leadership. Learning must be coupled with practice. Practice good leadership. A good example is that of people in the art industry, before they give you a good performance, they do a lot of work in studying and memorising their scripts. They go through rigorous practice and perfecting everything in preparation to entertaining their fans. As a leader you need to study good leadership methodologies and practices and develop yourself by practicing them.
Three things that Successful leaders who have mastered the art of leadership do:
- 1. They Creates an environment for followers to voice their opinions.
People who are surrounding you have a wealth of knowledge. All you need to do is to tap into their knowledge and become wiser. Leaders who fail to create an environment where followers are able to freely voice what they think turn to lose out a lot. Leadership does not mean you should intimidate your followers with your title. It was John C Maxwell who once said “Leadership is Influence”. Your title is not sufficient. In fact it is not your title that does the work. You are the one who is responsible. It is well and good to have a title; however, you have a responsibility to fulfill as a leader and not your title. To master the art of leadership, you need to make sure that you make your followers a centre of attraction. Show them you are interested in what they have to say. This does not mean that you will be led by them. It is only suggesting that you become a good listener and make your followers feel safe to express their thoughts. Master the art of leadership by creating an environment where people feel that it is so much easy to approach you as their leader.
- 2. They encourage their followers to apply their minds
Leaders who have mastered the art of leadership encourage people to apply their minds and think innovatively and out of the box. They turn to stretch their people so they think better and grow into positions of leadership as well. Leaders who have mastered the art of leadership are able to sense and identify areas of growth and development in their followers and lead them towards growing and developing those areas. They keep their people on their toes and lead them out of their comfort zones, tap into their potential and enable them to realize their strengths and assist them with growth tools and strategies so they live their lives to the fullest. Only followers who are willing to grow embrace leaders who motivate them to get out of their comfort zones.
Applying your mind enables you to engage yourself in lifelong learning. When you stop thinking, you stop to learn and once you stop learning you definitely stop growing.
- 3. They ascertain that their expectations from followers are clearly tabled, discussed and simplified.
It is very sad when leaders fail to communicate their expectations. If you expect something from people and not communicate it, how do you think they should know what you expect from them? As a leader, you need to excel in communication. Expectations that are not clearly communicated are more likely to demotivate and demoralise your followers.
I have experienced this in my working life, where expectations where not clearly defined. A performance contract was put in place but it was only understood by my manager as there were no performance indicators. Only key performance areas were captured on the document. I was invited to the performance appraisal session. Guess what happened in the session. Abuse was inevitable. The manager was in her own world and did not even bother to take me with to that world, at least long before she conducted the appraisal. There were things she was expecting me to do which were totally out of my jurisdiction and she could not really explain to me why she was expecting me to carry them out. There was a huge disagreement and she was bitter that I picked up a debate with her in this regard. I wouldn’t have allowed her to go on with unfair labour practices. Leaders who have mastered the art of leadership understand that communication is paramount. What you expect from your followers must be succinct and clearly defined. It is unfair to capture key performance areas and leave key performance indicators to the imagination of your followers if you are a manager.
Successful leaders who have mastered the art of leadership remind their followers of what is expected of them. They don’t pull out a document only once in three or six months only to misuse it. The purpose of performance appraisal was misunderstood. Good leaders, who understand the art of leadership, ensure that followers work smart towards a set of goals which have been communicated. They ensure that followers are focused and their projects are on time and on budget. Clearly defined, documented, and communicated expectations have the potential to increase and improve performance. If you want mediocre delivery, stay away from communicating but if you want a winning team, communicate, communicate and communicate!
Dr Mabel Baloyi is a Life Coach|Mentor| Skills development specialist|Project Management specialist|Facilitator|Freelance writer| Pastor|Inspirational Speaker
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