Everyone talks about it but yet everyone has a different approach to it. In order to clarify what leadership actually is I refer to John P. Kotter, Professor at the Harvard Business School. He states that Leadership differs from management. Leaders would have the visions, ideas about a company seeing the big picture. Managers on the other hand manage (obviously), organize and control the business and are in charge with administrative tasks. A leader is not better than a manager – a business needs both. In his book ‘A Force for Change’ he also concludes that a person cannot be leader and manager at once. There are tasks that require pure rational thinking in order to “get the stuff done” and there are situations that need real leadership in order to motivate people and get them on the right track.
Are leaders born or made?
After defining the terms I now want to dig deeper into the topic. Can leadership skills be developed or du people just have them? According to Kotter it is a common misbelieve that leaders are born. But not only Kotter but also Stanley McChrystal a former US General, a real leader – a commander-in-chief if you will thinks the same way:
„Leadership is not a gift or a talent. It’s a CHOICE”. Stanley McChrystal
Leadership can be learned and improved by continuous education in that field. Firms have to train their talents and constantly develop their skills in order to adapt to the quick changing business environment.
What does it take to be a (good) leader?
I really like what Christiane Amanpour has to say about this. For her a good leader has to be courageous and stand up for his convictions and beliefs. Leading also involves representing an example for subordinates. Leaders are inspirational and reliable, sincere and lead by example. It is not the post that makes people respect their boss – it is his character and his actions.
But does it always have to be men who become managers or leaders? If we take a look on the statistics it still appears to be a men’s world. Women are often disregarded when it comes to fill responsibility-packed positions of management or leader positions.
At this point I’d like to bring up Paula Broadwell. She served in the US army and also in the US army reserve and she also worked as an anti-terror specialist in a taskforce of the FBI. One can say the really rocked this men’s world. All that she claims is equal treatment for both genders. There doesn’t have to be a quota for woman in business or in the army – just equal treatment (also payment).
She reckons that women who meet the standards, intellectual and physical, should have an equal chance.
Quote of the day:
If you are a leader, the people you have counted on will help you up. And if you are a leader the people who counted on you will need you on your feet.