Article by Rosie Warren 

Leadership is an important skill that we can all strive to achieve. We just have to look at ourselves and how we view others. Leadership qualities are sought after by employers, so it is good idea to recognise, as well as develop, these skills.

When we think about leaders, we often think about the greats. Leaders who changed their country’s fortunes or the way think. People like Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Francis Drake, Queen Victoria and Mahatma Ghandi. Those who inspire us and have vision and courage. But we don’t have to be one of the greats to be a leader in what we do. No matter the situation we are in, with others involved, there will be a leadership figure. They may have what it takes or lack a certain something, but they will take the lead and others will follow.

So, what makes a good leader? Good leaders do not have to be the most popular, charismatic or informed. They are people who can empathise and communicate, who are creative and adaptable, and who have a resilience and direction. There is a big difference between leaders and managers, and it is often missed. Leaders will lead while managers manage. So, a great manager may be a good leader, but a great leader will never be a manager.

Good managers make sure that work gets done. They put time and energy into organising a group of people and they forge the direction of a company by getting a task done and then moving on to the next. The people around them report to them, respect them and they are ‘the boss,’ if you will, of those they work with.

The leader, on the other hand, may be among the group, involved in the task. They are the person who works collaboratively and rallies everyone to take up the vision. They can be the boss, but they do not have to be. The leader will inspire those around them to do the task better and faster. They are the individual that the company seeks out, they are the person that a company wants to keep. When recruiting young people, surveys show that over 60% of managers look for leadership qualities as not all managers have them.

Why is leadership so sought after? As far as a company is concerned, a leader will improve morale within the group, improve the productivity of the team, and improve creativity and innovation among others. They bring people together. They are collaborative, dependable, reliable and competent in their abilities and as such inspire others. They don’t have to be the loudest, the most popular or the most outgoing person in a group as we all have the potential to be leaders.

To become a good leader, we must develop the skills that enable us to consider how another member of the team may be feeling and how to react appropriately to situations. Being able to break down tasks and know the capabilities of the team to get the best results requires an ability to listen and watch others. As a leader you should ensure everyone’s voice is heard. Communication is key and it is a two-way process. But a great leader also knows when to direct. So, when things go wrong and problems occur, the leader can also take a step back, re-assess and see what could be done better; how to move forward. To become a leader, you need to develop a positive outlook so you can overcome adversity.

It is interesting that many of our great leaders may consider themselves to be private individuals who may be shy. So, to be a leader we must try not to be self-conscious, to speak up and ensure others have an opportunity to speak, be adaptable and recognise someone else’s position. The great leaders never set out to be great. They set out to improve circumstances and by so doing, inspire others. By collaborating and working with people with a shared vision they became great. We may not all become great, but we can certainly learn from others to become good leaders in whatever we do.