Updated: Dec 2, 2019
Leaders can be found in every walk of life. Whether professional, religious, or in peer groups, one thing is for certain; there is one person who will emerge as the dominant figure thus taking on the role of leader.
When dissected further you will find that leadership can be formal and informal. An informal leader indicates that one does not have to be in a position of authority to be a leader, however that person possesses certain behavioural or personality traits that make them stand out from the rest.
I would also draw your attention to two other leadership types; transactional and transformational. I am quick to highlight that a manager is not necessarily a leader therefore the two should always be judged by their own merits. Robbins and Langton (2001) define a transactional leader as one who “guides or motivates their followers in the direction of established goals by clarifying role and task requirements”. On the other hand, the transformational leader is one who “provides individualized consideration and intellectual stimulation, and who possesses charisma”.
Beaugre et al (2006) further breaks out transformation leadership into three distinct parts;
1. Revolutionary: Can be found in volatile organizations where employees show a high or low degree of receptivity.
2. Evolutionary: Are found in less volatile environments with high receptivity.
3. Transgressor: Less volatile organizations that show low degrees of receptivity.
Outside of these three, a more well-known aspect of transformational leadership is charismatic leadership. The charismatic leader “often rejects formal authority and will take personal risks based on their convictions. One of my recent social media posts highlights this leadership attribute. Charismatic leaders exude confidence and a sense of purpose and can articulate a view that subordinates are likely to accept” (Vecchio, 2006).
Take these different leadership styles and factor in personalities, behaviours, situations and follower theories and you are left with a plethora of hypotheses of what it takes to be a good or great leader. One author thinks that to avoid all the confusion, it is best to define a leadership brand.
Lawler (2004) believes that “a clearly identified leadership style can be a powerful factor in attracting, retaining, and motivating the right employees. A positive leadership brand that permeates the organization can also serve as a touchstone for all current employees who are managers or desire to be managers, guiding them toward your organization's "true north" with respect to the leadership behaviors and skills expected of them”.
Mr. Lawler is therefore suggesting that, instead of using various styles of management based on behaviour or situations, the organization should develop a clearly defined leadership style that will cause them to outshine their competitors. In other words, an organization that adopts this principle, assuming that it works, could become a leader of leaders.
Another source takes it a step further and suggests that “developing a personal brand is important to finding success in the business world” (Knowledge@Wharton, 2007). As is evident, leadership can be analyzed on a broad scale by looking at whole organizations, but essentially it starts with an individual; it could be the founder, a manager, or an employee. This in-depth analysis of leadership has given me enough information to examine my own leadership brand.
My leadership brand is consistent with my core values. McFadzean (2007) articulates that “successful leadership is accomplished through our style, values and behaviour”. I would also add that the best leaders are those with the most deeply held convictions, values, choices and attitudes.
Some things that make me a successful informal leader presently are:
Making people feel valued/comfortable in my presence - this is accomplished by listening actively to what people say, complementing them on performing a task well and relating to them on a personal level.
Being available – Making myself available if someone wants to talk privately, needs help with a task or needs guidance in a situation.
Establishing trust – In conjunction with number 2 above, keeping confidences, keeping my word and sharing information and experiences also go a long way in building trust.
Motivating someone to excel – In the professional environment, I find that many people put constraints on themselves due to personal circumstances or other situations. Often, a little encouragement is all that is required to get them to see things from a different perspective and help them to feel more in control of their circumstances. Leadership is inspiring greatness in others.
Coaching and mentoring – I have benefited from mentorship and coaching from some of the best coaches and mentors in the industry. The leas that I can do is share that legacy with others.
These five points coupled with my expertise and competence are the cornerstone of my leadership brand and what sets me apart from others in my professional and personal life.
Based on my personal and professional aptitude and experiences, it is very obvious that I am a transformational/charismatic leader. I am a very confident person who is not afraid to challenge the status quo if it goes against my beliefs. Challenging the status quo is not a bad thing,
however, we have to learn to choose our battles. Never give too much energy to inconsequential matters. In other words, don’t major in minor things.
My mission is to become the kind of leader (formal or informal) who is long remembered for making a positive impact on the people I come in contact with. For this reason I admire and use the following leaders, among others, as examples or role models that possess unique traits for me to aspire to; Nelson Mandela, Dr. Cindy Trimm, Mahatma Gandhi, Michael Lee-Chin, Ava Duvernay, Steven Spielberg and Warren Buffet.
Becoming a great leader is a journey that begins with becoming a better version of yourself every day. This requires learning, patience and growth. At the end of my personal journey I hope to look back with a smile and say “Fait accompli!”