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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