One thing I can assure anyone who has served in our armed forces. They were all exposed to unalike kinds of leadership styles and they all bear a meaning to the fact that leadership is something that is acquired rather than being born with. It was Voltaire who said “The right to commandship is no longer an advantage transmitted by nature. Like an inheritance, it is the fruit of labors, the price of courage.”
Focusing on the “fruits of labors” gives you a sense of direction whether or not a person is born a leader or if they have to work hard at such a challenge in life to exhibit those qualities looked upon by others as someone special and successful based on their trials and tribulations during their life. Although there may be some credence to some certain people were born to lead, it was strongly impressed to me that such personality traits are acquired through time and not at birth.
The key difference from my perspective is the dissimilarity between a leader and a great leader. The impressions to observe, learn and to be mentored by others greater than me gave me the insight to become successful not because I worked hard but because I paid attention to their traits, successes, failures and mistakes. I realized that whenever they were posed with a challenge, they developed an answer based on their experience of successes and failures and ensuring they didn’t make the same mistake again.
Hence the key is leadership capacity that makes a good leader stand out from the rest of them. The capacity to capture vital leadership characteristics, retain them, use them and continuing to expand or develop them not only with time but with mistakes made and the courage to keep making decisions. Leadership has a position of eminence that carries with it an exceptionally high level of responsibility and accountability.
The up side of such eminence is the clear evidence such leadership traits draw loyalty and there is no anomaly of loyalty that is unquestionably the kind that instills confidence and positive traits in others who in time become [great] leaders as well. Hence there appears to be a natural chain of events, a set of qualities inherited or empowered to others that makes the tool of leadership vital in the development of men.
Through time we find the answers to our problems. Through time we gain experience and find different answer than before to the same questions. It is a natural balance of generational growth that fails to isolate not just one trait but rather inherit a host of many personality traits as well as having the knowledge and essential capability qualities which is formulated carefully, filtering out the unsuccessful makings drawn from either historically or from their own past and blend them all together to give you a great leader in the end.
Such cultivation process is a time consuming task but well worth the effort at the end. It gives you mass challenges and opportunities to keep working on it, developing it and applying it. One essential element of success for leadership, whether mediocre, absolute or supreme or rising to the level of excellence is a keen ability and sincere effort to know people.
Having an interest in people creates the positive dynamics of growth and leads a person down a path of finding the true purpose of what they expect to bring to the problem at hand and hope they have possession of such a skill set to perform the challenges in the manner which makes it successful I nature.
All the while, they ensure their knowledge, their skills and their experience resonates confidence in others who either follow or are present, they too can possess such traits, qualities and excellence if you take an interest in people and how they do their jobs.
This is not about being flawless or not making mistakes but rather the courage to make decisions which reveal the inner qualities of the decision-maker’s weaknesses and strengths creating a skill set to articulate and communicate good judgment.
Judgment is an essential traits for leadership that must include failure. The essential ingredient of judgment is experience whether it was a good or bad experience is important but what is more important is to never make the same mistake twice.
What carries a leader over the top when faced with a problem or dilemma at hand is having the courage to be resourceful, draw strength from their skill set for coming up with the solution to the matter and act decisively and address it with resolve. He or she does not withdraw from the crisis or retreat to limit themselves in participation or engagement and show a clear distinction of their weaknesses. It is exactly at this type of moment in your existence that your reputation is acknowledged and credibility is witnessed.
These elements of positive traits produce a position of eminence which in turn create loyalty. During the exhibition of decision making he or she take into consideration those human qualities or values that carry weight with their followers.
Human traits such as love, compassion, kindness and equal considerations bring a sense of ownership and belonging to those who believe in this method of cultivating unity and common cause bonding which in turn increases the loyalty amongst those who see the leader make such efforts.
Loyalty to followers develops loyalty in return. An old saying is that “loyalty begets loyalty” and nothing can break that spirit. Arthur W. Newcomb said “Show me the leader and I will know his men. Show me the men and I will know their leader.
Therefore, to have loyal, efficient employees, be a loyal, efficient employer.” Loyalty is earned but first it must be given. Given to those who are willing to sacrifice at all costs and believe and trust the leader who guides them in war or peace.
During the war I saw two kinds of leadership taking place right there before me. One is leadership of fear: the other is leadership of encouragement. Both can be effective if they are used at the right time and at the right place. They are both motivators and can cause a heartbeat to skip with excitement or terror. Either way they are blood pumping methods that create the adrenalin rush desired to overcome odds or other human emotions.
Wisdom leads you to realize you can’t use both at the same time. This causes confusion within the rank and file and sends a mixed message. You cannot motivate if they are trembling for the wrong reasons. You cannot encourage if they don’t trust you.
Your actions and body language have to be consistent with you message and your message should be one that unites and not separates the forces. Loyalty to subordinates will be at risk. A leader should be consistent in his approach.