It doesn’t take long before I come across another Manager vs Leader blog. I actually enjoy reading them, other people’s experiences can help me challenge myself. Being a manager isn’t easy, but then there seems to be a different mindset to being a leader! It is a personal decision what we want to make out of our role/career, but if someone wants to become a leader, is that a goal anyone can achieve?
You could say no one chooses to be a leader and that it’s a function someone steps up to over others. It’s not something that happens overnight, it comes from years of experience and learning to improve certain skills. It takes a certain mindset to be people focus over task focus, proactive over reactive, and influential over giving orders.
Working this way is how to bring the best out of the team member, it allows the freedom for them to shine as individuals. But, this is not easy to do! I read this blog the other day which said “Leadership is not born, it’s made.” I don’t entirely agree with this.
Reading HBR’s article – The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World – gives good insight into what makes an effective leader. Who can argue with 195 global leaders! I would recommend taking the time to go through these as they can offer valuable direction into areas of self-improvement.
You can see from the five themes that they cover much ground, and yes, most of these are competencies that can be developed over time. But can anyone develop these skills to become a leader? I believe there is one crucial attribute for a leader that is not explicitly called out in the article. That attribute is humility.
No leader is any better than their team.
The article covers “flexibility to change opinions” (competency #4) and “being open to new ideas and approaches” (#7), which touches on humility, but I believe there is more to it.
A good leader believes that they are no better than anyone in their teams, only having humility can really achieve this. What this does is allows team members to open up and have the confidence to express ideas/emotions in a safe place. They will know that the lead will listen and act in a fair way. It generates respect throughout the team.
Having humility is not a weakness, and should be mistaken as one. Big decisions still have to be made, but the team will respect those decisions, and you, a lot more knowing that their opinions have been genuinely heard. It creates teams where people follow you because they want to not because they have to. Good leaders know when be firm with decisions and when to be more humble.
So, can anyone become a leader? I believe anyone can develop many of the competencies and been seen as a leader. However, there are attributes that successful leaders have that are hard to develop, as it’s part of their character. I’m not saying humility is a genetic trait, but it is a rare quality that aligns very well with current leadership functions. Would your team say you show humility in your work?