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Leadership: It’s What You Do, Not What You Are

A strong leadership team is essential for your business' success

What are the most vital characteristics every great leader should have? You ask this question to 10 business owners and you’ll likely get 20 different answers. There are countless books and articles written about entrepreneurship and what it takes to be an exceptional leader. If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s there are multiple types of leaders that fit within different industries and organizations. Having a vision for strategy and business development is one skill every leader should possess.

According to Ronald Heifetz, who heads the Leadership Education Project at Harvard University, leaders are those in position of authority or have a personal set of characteristics. So the latter showcases an individual who is what many people often describe as a “born” leader. This also brings us to the concept that leadership is about what you do, rather than who you are.

According to Harry J. Bruce, the CEO of Illinois Central Railroad, many of the definitions and expectations of leaders today are not correct. Moreover, entrepreneurs should avoid using these past concepts to measure themselves.

Authority Doesn’t Measure Leadership

Literally anyone can fill a position of authority, but that doesn’t make him a leader. It’s why we see so many managers failing at their roles. Authority and leadership tend to go hand-in-hand, but in general, authority is given to people so that they’re able to accomplish a goal. Leadership, on the other hand, is the process of influencing others around you in order to complete a goal. It’s very possible for leadership to occur without establishing authority.

Leadership Doesn’t Equal Pioneering

Just because an entrepreneur is capable of innovating or creating a new product, service or methodology which changes the industry doesn’t necessarily qualify them to lead others, for the simple reason that leadership involves motivating people to act, not making technological or business innovations.  You can be a technological whiz or have brilliant insights into what is happening in business to introduce new products or services, but that alone does not make one a leader of people.

Leadership Isn’t About Being a Role Model

This is a common misconception about the role of leaders. Entrepreneurs are expected to serve as a positive role model within their establishment, but again, this doesn’t constitute a leader. Role models have a demeanor that establishes a benchmark to be met. However, when it comes to leading, it’s about your actions, not how you’re perceived.

Leadership Isn’t a One-Person Job

The idea of a leader being a soloist is another misleading concept. The definition for leadership is causing action with others. Leadership is based on action and the ability to understand motivations. Learning what drives you and your team members is essential for the development of your overall business.

If you need assistance with establishing leadership roles in your organization, consider consulting with a business development expert. The professionals at IDS cater to small and medium-size businesses across the U.S. and can perform a thorough analysis of your organization.

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