What is Leadership?
Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act toward achieving a common goal.
Anyone in a higher position can be a boss - good or bad - but to be a leader means to inspire, that’s the essence of being a leader. Effective leadership is based upon ideas—both original and borrowed—that are effectively communicated to others in a way that engages them enough to act. Above serving as inspiration, a leader has to direct the way that their team acts.
How Does Leadership Work?
In business, leadership is linked to performance, and in a sense is linked to profit as well. If an individual in a leadership role does not meet profit expectations set by boards, shareholders or higher management, must be let go.
While there are people who seem to be naturally endowed with more leadership abilities than others, history is full of people who, while having no previous leadership experience possessed traits and qualities that helped them to step into roles of leadership.
Leadership vs. Management
The terms leadership and management tend to be used interchangeably, but they're not the same. Let’s discover the key differences between leadership and management:
Being a leader is undoubtedly a creative position, while managers mostly have to stick to routines and structures that are in practice - to enforce work integrity within their team. A manager doesn’t have to inspire but we all know how empowering it is to work under someone who is inspiring. A leader usually doesn’t have the space or time to be concerned with interpersonal issues, but the manager does and should be since these can influence the daily workflow and therefore the overall performance. Managers decide on their tables and act as an intermediary between their team and higher management or the leader. How updates and reports are catered to the leader or the board of directors is completely up to them - that’s why the quality of management is critical in determining the faith of any company.
Leadership requires traits that extend beyond management duties. Many managers are leaders and vice versa—but not all are.
Leaders emphasize innovation above all else. When a worker has a radical new idea for how to tackle an issue, a leader is likely to encourage that person to pursue the idea. However, the leader's devotion to innovation can sometimes come at a cost. Chaos and high-pressure work environments can create interpersonal issues. When such issues arise, a manager is more likely to see it as their duty to smooth over problems between employees. Leaders can sometimes be so singularly focused on achieving lofty goals that they let interpersonal issues and employee welfare fall to the wayside.
What skills you need to have to become a GOOD leader?
If we accept the idea that leadership is influence, then you can’t be a leader without influence. Which brings us back around to why you need sales: Sales is the art of influence.
Any good salesperson needs to understand how to position themselves before they attempt to influence someone else. Positioning means filling a specific role in the mind of your audience. It is the space you will occupy in the customer’s psyche. Positioning is incredibly important. It is your opportunity to define yourself, and if you don’t define yourself, your audience will.
The more specific you are, the better.
Asking the right questions
In any attempt at influence, asking the right questions is imperative. Taking the time to know your audience better is beneficial for two reasons:
- It helps you understand their needs better.
- It builds trust with your audience.
Pitching the right solution
After you find out who your team members are and what they want or need, it’s time to actually provide the solution. Your sales pitch must be given in a way that clearly addresses your "customer’s" needs.
It’s important to remember that you need to pitch the solution that actually fits your "customer", not just the one that benefits you the most. Again, you want to be focused on the other person, not on yourself.
Tying it all together
If you think about it, using sales techniques in a leadership capacity doesn’t just make it easier to motivate your team; it helps you help them.
So the bottom line is: positioning yourself effectively will get them to see who you are and how you desire to impact them. Asking the right questions helps you get to know your team better and build trust. Presenting solutions that are designed to help your employees succeed will show them they can become better by working with you.
Sources: LivePlan, BPlans, The Balance