Three Ways of Defining Leadership
Many businesses and schools across the world have tried to create the perfect formula to mold a new generation of leaders. A variety of institutions now offer leadership development courses tailored to fit the specific needs of an individual, or business. However, there are a multitude of situations in which any person can lead, which makes it difficult to have a uniform mold of what a leader should be. Instead, businesses have flourished by adopting many forms of leadership within the workplace.
The essence of being a team leader is often instilled in us from playing competitive youth sports. Even at a young age we see children gravitate towards an athlete that seems to grasp both the mental intricacies of the game, and the physical talents to lead by example. Coaches give these team leaders an official title of Captain, which gives them additional responsibilities of interacting with referees and the captains of opposing teams.
Many studies have shown that involvement in organized youth sports increase the opportunities for prosocial engagement, and collaboration with others to complete a greater goal. These skills transition into the workforce, as the same studies reveal that high school athletes who participated in varsity sports were more likely to attain jobs in upper management, and at a younger age, than those who only participated in school clubs.
Leading from Behind
Nelson Mandela often used the term “leading from behind,” and likened leadership to being a shepherd. In his autobiography he stated: “He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.”
A great leader emboldens their subordinates to become free thinkers and to work to the best of their unique abilities. They must cultivate a work setting that encourages fresh ideas and the employee must feel that their work is appreciated. This produces a sense that the group can lead itself and not merely be led by the loudest at the front. In this regard, managers should provide basic guidance and intervene when it is absolutely necessary.
Visionary leaders have consistently propelled society to drastic change. In recent memory we have seen Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates transform the world with groundbreaking technology.
True visionary leaders have innovative ideas, and they also understand the means to make their dreams come to fruition. These leaders set specific goals, recruit competent employees, and work very hard to implement their vision.
A prime example of a visionary leader is in the political spectrum.
Barack Obama ran his first presidential campaign on a single word: Hope. The United States had just gone through the worst economic disaster since the great depression and his vision of hope resonated with a large portion of Americans who had just lost their home and their retirement accounts.
The American people bought into his vision and he was elected to lead the most powerful office in the world.