I don’t read many leadership books because I don’t really believe that leadership can be taught through text. I believe that leadership is a skill best taught through real-life experiences and best learnt through real-life examples.
As I watched the latest (leaked) episode of Naruto Shippuden 169, I couldn’t help but to be drawn to Naruto’s hidden and often-understated leadership and charisma. It may just be anime but it has taught me so much about life and in this case, leadership. (Actually, I wrote an article on the top ten reasons to watch Naruto before.) Naruto has a magnetic personality and he has qualities that just naturally endears you to him – he may be reckless but he’s so charmingly reckless you can’t help but to join him in his recklessness. I think Shikamaru got it right when he said, “That guy, has something no one else does… …When I’m with Naruto, ‘I want to walk alongside him’, is what I think”. I desire to have leadership qualities like that!
And so it got me thinking about the kind of leader I aspire to be as well as who and what I’m inspired by. I see some of these qualities in the leaders, mentors and role models that I look up to. In my primitive perspective, an outstanding leader should have or be:
- A forward-thinking visionary.
- Depth in character and understanding of self.
- Knowledge and expertise (a.k.a. IQ).
- Charisma and people skills (a.k.a. EQ).
- Determination and fighting spirit.
- Courage and a willingness to take risks and try new things.
- Wisdom, patience and maturity.
- Authentic and unafraid to exhibit flaws and shortcomings.
- An unquenchable desire to learn from mistakes, improve and improvise.
- Humility to acknowledge defeat and apologise whenever necessary.
- Confidence and an acute awareness of his strengths and weaknesses.
- Situational awareness and appreciation.
- A keen sense of strategy and shrewdness.
- Excellence and thoroughness.
- Commitment to follow-through with the plan and vision.
- Versatility and an all-rounded capability.
- Sensitivity and compassion to reach out to the underdogs.
- Spirit-controlled and a master of his temperaments.
- Consistency and a reputation that has been proven over time.
- Always one step away from fulfilling his glass-ceiling potential.
But most of all, I think, a leader must have followers. Otherwise, it is absolutely useless to possess all the above-mentioned qualities if you have no one to lead! If people aren’t willing and wanting to “walk alongside you”, then as a leader, you will simply be rendered ineffective and redundant. I think that’s the harsh but honest truth.
Frankly, it didn’t take me very long to list these 20 qualities and I could easily (and seriously) go for another 20 more (and I’m sure you could too), since I’ve merely shared my opinion of an ideal leader. However, the more I think about it, the more I think that Jesus is our perfect role model of a leader – I can’t think of a better example who has all these qualities and one whom I’d want to emulate than my Saviour.
I think I will expand on each of these qualities another time. For now, I just wanted to extract these thoughts out of my head. I need a good physical rest tonight!
Majority of us tend to think that there are two general groups of people – the leaders and the followers. While that may be true to an extent, I’d like to believe that there also people who embrace leadership and those who shun leadership, or better phrased as, those who love to lead and those who hate to lead. Most of those who love to lead are usually leaders but there are also those who hate to lead in leadership. I’m worried about the latter category. I enjoy leadership and I’m confident that I’m a good leader; I’m thankful for the many leadership opportunities and exposures that I’ve had. The following are seven common struggles I notice about emerging, outdated or unwilling leaders.
The first is when you lead without relationship. The scarier thing about that is when you lead thinking you have relationship. Bad leaders are those who are blind, but the worst leaders are those who don’t even realise that their eyes are unopened! It is imperative that you know the people whom you are leading, regardless of where you’re placed as a leader. Failure to care for your people usually results in a failure to achieve your leadership objectives.
Secondly, it’s common for some to lead with constant criticism or prolonged periods without encouragement. Perhaps you could take this time, right now, to send your leader a note of encouragement. A simple, “Press on!” or “Keep it up!” or even, “Praying for you!” makes a world of difference. And if you’re the leader who’s discouraged, then I’d recommend that you find a person you trust and to confide in him or her. Sometimes it’s really tough to lead from the front, and weakened leaders end up herding people instead of guiding them – be aware of this symptom.
Thirdly, there’re some who lead without vision. Regardless of where you’re serving as a leader, you must also remember to receive your vision from the leader above you. It’s dangerous when you start to stray from the original vision; when there are two visions, there is division. Once you know where you are heading, it’s important to always put your vision in front of those whom you are leading; every once in a while, you must remind them of their purpose and their responsibilities, as well as the end point.
It’s getting late and I’m getting tired; I need to prepare for JT’s wedding, as well as to get to bed early, since my Saturday will begin in a few hours at 5:30am. I shall resume this entry at the close of tomorrow. For now, do you agree with me on the first three so far? Do share your thoughts with me – I’d love to hear your perspectives.