Summary of Sheila Murray Bethel’s book with the same title - by Hannah du Plessis
What leadership is not: It is not Management. Management is working with and through people and groups to accomplish organizational goals. Leadership is influencing human behaviour, regardless of the goal.
A leader is first of all a person who serves people. In order to lead, people need to know that you care about them. You show you care by excellent service to them.
A leader has a mission that matters. Leaders become impassioned by a vision of an improvement in people's lives and that passion becomes a driving force.
A leader is a great thinker. Without big thinking, we'd have no big results — and very few small ones. It is the big thinking of leaders that moves humanity forward. They are able to see people, places and things in a bigger and better light than currently exists. They see potential. They seek opportunity. They find answers before others have asked the questions. Big, productive thinking flows from a fully functional imagination. Creative thinkers have open minds to all thoughts — they don't judge or reject ideas prematurely or automatically. Leaders and big thinkers can literally change the world because they believe they can. That belief comes from a deep faith in themselves and others. People often don't have that faith in themselves, so they welcome and gladly follow a leader who does have that faith and vision.
A leader has high ethics. Ethics are high standards of honest and honourable dealings based on our morals. Ethics are a set of basic working tenets for life and business. How we act and what we do, our methods of functioning, and how we apply our morals is our ethical behaviour. Ethics are APPLICATION. To live by your own ethical standards, you must first be clear what they are. Life is more fast-paced than ever before. "Winning" and getting ahead and making lots of money have become the common measures of success and, too often, that means "no matter what the cost." Ethics are all too-often compromised on personal and professional levels.
A leader is a change Master. Communication, travel, science and technology — the reasons behind our "shrinking world" — have meant that change happens at exponential speed in our times. That means all change, positive and negative, designed and accidental. We must adapt — or become extinct. Extinction may take the form of products that are unmarketable, management styles that are ineffective, systems that are pointless, or relationships that are meaningless.
There will be times when change happens that is out of your control — maybe not even foreseen by you. There will be other times when you create change for the benefit of your vision and the people you lead. In either case, you cannot determine how other people will change or react, but you can impact their openness and receptivity. Provide new information to expand your followers' thinking. Show them how their lives or work may become easier, more efficient, more pleasant, etc. once the change is in place. Provide new ideas to spark their creativity and broaden their horizons. Help them to imagine what things would be like with the change in place — how much better (and not so bad) than they had first thought. Create an open door by brainstorming and considering the possibilities.
Provide new experiences to build a desire for a belief in the value of change. Introduce "tests" or "examples" of what the change might mean for people to "try out." Perhaps your situation would be appropriate for people to go see another environment with the change in place — so they can experience it for themselves.
A leader is sensitive. In any type of leadership role, you will be more effective by incorporating sensitivity to economic policy, government regulations, quality control, excellent service, trends, and so forth. Equally important is a sensitivity to the people you are leading. You can only be as effective as are the people you are leading. By supporting them on issues important to them, you are nurturing their effectiveness. Leaders who can make a difference understand that people return value when they are valued. When they see a connection between their personal goals and those of an organization, they will work very hard to further the organization's goals. Your sensitivity to people will help you match the right person to the right job or task. It will help you take an appropriate amount of risk to set an example for others and help them gain confidence in their own actions. People become renewed and fulfilled when their leader is able to help them deliver their own best performances. Leaders today work WITH people to empower them to bring out their best abilities, whereas leaders used to do things TO people to elevate their status.
A leader is a risk taker. There wouldn't be much point in having a mission to make a difference and all the right big ideas if we didn't have the courage to take a few risks to make it happen. Without risk, many of the big ideas would never even be possible and results would never materialize. Quite simply, the risk is the glue between a big idea and turning it into reality. Risk means that you may suffer harm or loss as a result of taking certain actions. Sometimes that harm is serious physical danger, but more often it is a fear of failure and ridicule in the eyes of friends and associates. It's important to have a strong belief in what you're doing, so that the risk of criticism or ridicule don't matter enough to hold you back.
A leader is a Decision Maker. Until decisions to take action are made, all you have is ideas and potential. At its worst, indecisiveness wastes time, effort, money, energy, and…life. Smart leaders understand that the wrong decision is better than no decision at all. And, NOT deciding actually is a decision, but for all the wrong reasons. As difficult as it may be to decide, when you determined to lead, you chose to be a decision maker. Decisions give birth to action, excitement and results. Indecision gives birth to regret.
A leader has Power. By using your power to empower others will foster confidence them. The result will be more energy and efficiency on the team. People will trust themselves when they see that you have entrusted them with power. They'll be bigger thinkers and maybe develop into leaders themselves. You will bring out the best and the potential of people when you empower them to take action. Wise leaders who support others by sharing power find that their own personal power grows in terms of loyalty and respect.
Those who covet power and hold it close become dictatorial, authoritative, and....alienated. When power is shared, it grows; when it is guarded, it vanishes. Wise leaders also know that true power is not flaunted or forced. Effective leaders don't intimidate or "pull rank." Effective power is typically used quietly, through persuasion, cooperation, respect, and example. Power at its dynamic best is used when it is needed, in emergencies and crises. Its value is in creating support for people and projects, rather than tearing them down.
A leader communicates effectively. Without effective communication, you simply won't be able to make a difference. Good communicators have two things going for them — SKILL and PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY, which takes the form of attitude and passion. Just as you don't know what's going on if you don't see it first-hand, you will be totally out of touch if you don't LISTEN to the people. Listening is the way you learn what's going on — and how people are being affected. More often than not, when there are problems in an organization, the leader hasn't paid attention well enough to hear about them until it's too late. Learn the art of communication from experts.
A leader is a team builder. One of the most rewarding aspects of leadership is to contribute to and watch people grow into their own potential. As they solve problems, build skills and reach goals, you'll realize that you're actually making a difference with them. You'll soon learn that most people are just waiting to be asked to help make a difference on the planet. The best way to do this together is with teams. Attract the right people and then motivate and train them and you'll be on your way to making a big difference.
A leader is courageous. The role of leaders has become global, demanding the courage to act in the best interests of the people in our country and around the planet. Courage also inspires followers. As they see their leader go down difficult paths, face danger, make sacrifices, stand up for their beliefs, and remain true to their strengths and instincts, followers also become more courageous and strong.
A leader is committed. People who have a fear of commitment can never be a leader. A leader is committed to his followers and to show the above traits.
Books on Leadership