What makes a great leader?
The simple answer is lots of #great prefixes…
- Great results
- Great LOVE from their followers
- Great Vision
- Great humility
And so on…
Without meaning to be flippant, we must look at the different leadership styles and power models. Frankly, the styles that we are all used to: Transformational, Transactional, Servant, Autocratic, Laissez-faire, Democratic, Beuraucratic, Charismatic, Situational are adapted from classic management training and are methods as apposed to being able to answer the question of what makes a great leader. Anyone could apply any of the above methods in the right circumstances and situations. The above can be approaches, and they often are exactly that – rather than “Leadership Styles”…
Great Leadership is the ability to impel not compel. Coker, (2017)
The above quote sums it all up. Being impelled from within to follow, being inspired intrinsically is a powerful form of motivation. It is not based on the stick, or fear, it is based on “inherited hope” that becomes your own. This is buying into a vision that becomes your vision. What this means is that one of the traits of a great leader is the ability to influence. Unfortunately, there is a fine moral line separating manipulation and influence. Inspire is on the spectrum of influence, along with impel. Coherce and compel are on the spectrum of Manipulation. A great leader may use elements of both, which may not be a popular thing to say, but hope and fear can work together with one pushing and the other pulling to overcome greater intertia as per the polar model of hope and fear (Coker, 2017).
Great Leadership is built on the following pillars:
- Perceived Passion for a task – an outwards facing vision for which they have enthusiasm and passion
- Ability to impel – The ability to translate that passion into a voice that stirs emotion in others. This can be hope or fear based…
- Big Charisma – This is charisma that works on the big stage with a big audience
- Little Charisma – This is the quiet charisma that works with their intimate audience and key players
- Perceived Competence – this competence can be related to the task or standing on its own
How much of the above can be learned? Anything with a “perceive”prefix can be learned or “projected”
Charisma is largely an approach and delivery
With this in mind, leadership skills can be acquired, and in particular the skills fall within the auspices of psychology. There are many myths around leadership, and there is often morality attached to it, and of course virtues such as humility, courage, kindness. Human history is full of unkind and frankly horrible people who have done great things, not necessarily good things. When you take the morality away from leadership, narcissists and psychopaths often do very well within high-level leadership roles.
A manager can make a transition into leadership with the right understanding and approach. Of course, when people come too far out of their comfort and strength zone, the strain can be significant. The Authentic leader has the above traits naturally. Being naturally energetic and passionate is going to be much easier than simply acting, and so on. That said, leading SOMETIMES is possible for anyone…