If you’ve ever thought of leadership as one of those things you pay little attention to, you might need to have a rethink.
That’s because everyone is a leader of some sort.
And the more you work at it, the better you’ll become.
We Are All Involved
To begin with, leadership is of two types. The basic but more essential level of leadership is leading one’s self. That is, Personal Leadership. In simple terms, it is being in charge of your life, effectively.
It is that part of leadership where we all get involved; yet it is the one we ignore the most.
Personal leadership is what tells how you are playing out your life. Are you living in a focused and organized manner? Do you review your values and actions to give proper direction to yourself? Are you deliberate about yourself? Or are you just the happy-go-lucky person who is just rolling along with the wind of time?
Leading one’s self is all about asking these questions? It’s all about having conversations with yourself; asking the most important questions, and taking responsibility for your life, daily.
The second and higher level of leadership is leading others. It may be one, two or more persons. It’s called People Leadership.
And in fact, we all get thrust into it, every now and then. We find ourselves responsible for leading others, more often than we realize or admit it.
From leadership in the home and office, to that in the classroom, agencies, social groups, professional bodies, associations, family circles, dormitory rooms, small units, departments, religious settings, residential estates, stores and so on; we are all involved!
So, the reality most times, is that you are not just leading yourself alone, but others too.
Leading Others is a Matter of Influence
At times leading others is structured and obvious; like having a title, holding a position or occupying an office. Some other times, it’s implied or naturally expected; like being the eldest child in the house or the most experienced in a class group.
But whatever form it takes, leading others is integrally a matter of influence. It is how you are able to affect people, shape their philosophy, alter their mindset, direct their tendencies and induce a change in their behaviour.
That is why, you can lead others without clearly saying so; and people can follow you without quickly realizing it.
This is even more evident when the leader has no obvious, screaming portfolio. That tells you leadership is not about cunningly manipulating or coercing others.
Leading Others Depends on Leading Yourself
But true success in people leadership hugely depends on success in personal leadership. In other words, you will do well leading others, if in the first place you give proper direction to yourself.
For instance, if you understand and already practice goal setting, it will be easier to lead others into that.
It’s that simple.
Consider a young person accommodated by an older relative or an older sibling and his or her younger ones in a family.
Naturally, the responsibility of leadership falls on the older relative and sibling; however, the actualization of that will depend on their preparedness for such (via their own personal leadership). If it is the younger one who has ingrained leadership qualities in himself, he will tacitly show the way. If unfortunately, he also is ignorant, then you’ll find a leadership mess.
So, if the mere fact that you are a leader of yourself is not sufficient to motivate you to want to lead better, how about the fact that you’ll lead others? Even if you have never led anyone before – all instances considered, someday you will lead others (or be expected to).
Avenues Will Abound, Prepare Yourself
The opportunities to lead will always come; whether in a structured, recognizable way or a silent, tacit manner; in marriage, in the home, in business or in the society.
And the concern will always be how prepared we are to handle such at any given time.
That’s why it’s important we always learn, relearn and unlearn what leadership entails. It is why we should constantly allow ourselves to be moulded along leadership lines.
Young people especially, should be deliberate about drilling into themselves those virtues that make the difference.
Read books. Attend seminars. Volunteer. Take courses. Take up service roles. Be sensitive. Be informed. Take risks.
Do whatever it takes to be better at leading yourself and others.
Excellence must be the watchword. Discipline, decorum, probity, integrity and resourcefulness should always be in view.
Good Followership Matters
It’s also important we become more responsible in our followership. Good followership enhances good leadership. And in reality, every leader in one setting is a follower in the same or another.
For instance, the elder child who ought to give direction to his siblings is expected to also follow the guidance and leadership of the parents. The president may be the overall leader of a country but he may also have a leader in religious or family contexts.
So, following well, means learning well. It translates to adding value to you.
And you can never tell in what specific leadership role, that will come handy.
There is Room for Improvement
On either plane of leadership, assessment is often required. It is your passport to progress.
We should never cease to evaluate ourselves by asking salient questions. We should often check how meaningfully we are directing ourselves individually. After that is done, we must also ask how profitably we are influencing others since good leadership, is influence in the right direction.
Whatever level we find ourselves on the evaluation scale, one thing is sure: there will always be room for improvement. That room has been named a thousand times over as the biggest in the world.
So, we must seek to advance in the school of leadership.
The world today is in dire need of leaders in every sphere of human endeavour.
We must brace up to the challenge and prepare for the opportunities that lie ahead.
Ogaga Eruteya is a Nigerian Christian minister, writer and speaker. He writes on Faith, Personal Development, Youth Development, and Life Realities. With his words, he seeks to inspire, motivate, propagate life’s truths and represent a sincere Christian voice. Learn more about Ogaga here.