Being a leader and leadership styles

What is leadership?

Leadership has many definitions depending on the exact context, but it is generally considered to be the types of actions and behaviours that mean one person is guiding another or a group of others. Leadership, in such a wide definition, could be a simple as showing the route from A to B of a group of people. However, more specific examples of leadership can be found in modern management structures, within family groups and in sporting and cultural endeavours. Wherever there is a leader doing the leading – even when the role is shared – then some form of leadership is at play.

 Which leadership style is best?

Some people lead by example, while others prefer to develop ideas and disseminate them through powerful oratory. That said, some people lead with a free rein or will only lead in certain situations, so-called task-oriented leadership. When people start to think that all decision-making should be placed into the hands of the leader, the leadership style is said to be autocratic or even authoritarian. Close to this is a paternalistic leadership style which can be benign but which makes some people feel patronised. As to which is best, it is a matter of personal choice. In the west, leaders that are overly authoritarian tend to have their powers limited by mass democracy and civil society. 

How do leaders communicate effectively?

There are many skills that go into being a good leader. One of them is good communication, something that is almost universally accepted. A good leader will often speak over and above middle managers or his or her immediate milieu to talk directly to the people being led. Oratory skills have long been associated with good leadership communication, even going as far back as ancient Greece. Communication should be inspiring, positive and simple to understand. Good leaders are adept at all forms of communication, written and spoken, as well as being skilled media performers in the modern age.

What leadership tips are there?

If you would like to be a better leader, then try listening as much as talking. This simple step will allow you to really address the issues that matter and prove that your leadership style is a two-way street. If you are new to managing people, then find a mentor who can guide you in the principles involved, if you can. Another good tip is to be emotionally aware. People with good emotional intelligence tend to make the best leaders in many situations.

Can leadership be taught?

Although some people believe that leadership is innate, you can learn many of the aspects involved and become better at it. Some people are naturally more gifted while others have to work on it. That said, it is a skill that can be acquired even if you have never thought of yourself as a leader before.

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At its simplest, communication means being able to convey a sense of meaning to another person or group of people and for it to be understood. Good communication skills, therefore, cover a wide range of activities, from conveying visual meaning in the form of symbols to talking and using body language. In short, there is no single definition of what communication skills really are. In the main, however, people refer to communication skills to discuss how people relate and interact with one another in daily life. In most cases, this means talking, but all other forms of communication, including digital and written work, must also be taken into account. Remember that good communication skills do not merely rely on making yourself heard but on being able to listen to what is being communicated to you just as much. This is because communication is always a two-way street to some extent.
Motivation has the same root as the word motive. As such, it is best described as the various phenomena that give us a motive to do something. A motivation to eat, therefore, might be feeling hungry. Psychologists try to explain how people behave largely by what motivates them. In theories of leadership, for instance, motivation is often used to give people a reason to do something, such as offering a reward for success. For many people, however, being motivated is something that comes from within, a sort of self-drive, if you will. As such, there are both conscious and unconscious forms of motivation.
There are several different types of emotional intelligence. Specifically, EQ is an emotional quotient of emotional intelligence which means that a score is made of various types of emotions in order to measure and compare them. More widely, EQ is an ability which allows someone to distinguish between multiple emotional states and act accordingly. For example, an emotionally intelligent person would be able to differentiate between feelings of frustration and anger. Crucially, EQ means adjusting your behaviour in response to your own emotional state as well as recognising the feelings of others and adapting to them. In this regard, emotional intelligence is closely linked to empathy.
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