Thursday, July 16, 2009

The First Step Toward Leadership

Are leader born or made is a classic question. We believe the answer is “yes.” All of us are born with greater amounts of some talents. We can develop them or develop some of our lesser talents.

Leadership skills are no different. We all possess them to some extent.

A person cannot lead without knowing about those whom he would lead. What is important to them? What do they want from the “leader?” Only after leaders learn that information can they seek to influence others in a certain direction.
The leadership relationship is a two-way street. There must be benefits for both parties. That is why the leader must know what must be given in return for “followership.”

An initial step toward developing or increasing leadership skills is to take the initiative in conversations. Ask questions to learn about others’ interest and values. Seek to understand others before seeking to be understood. Once someone knows that a person is interested in him, then that person can “hear” what someone else has to say.

Such questioning cannot be a one-way street. It cannot be an interrogation. The would-be leader must be willing to show himself, as well. If this conversation is not handled properly it can be seen as a person trying to make the conversation revolve around him)self. Balance is necessary.

As stated above, there must be benefits for the “followers.” However, once a trusting relationship is established the “leader” and the ‘followers” can act on faith when the advantages to each are not clearly evident.

As a first step toward leadership, try to focus your next conversations on learning more from others, whether you intend to try to influence them or not.