The Most Important Skill a Leader Needs
It is not easy to define leadership and I want to share a few places where we go astray when we try.
Leadership is not manipulation. It is not about the ability to inspire, as that can be a subtle form of manipulation. Effective leadership does not involve a structure in which one person has control of the direction and the outcome. Leadership is not a generous act of kindness or the offering of equality (listening, respect, encouragement) as if we are not all equal in the first place. Leadership is not like a parent-child relationship (unless we are talking about a parent and his or her child).
Too often, definitions of leadership have a condescending tone to them, of a hierarchical division of the elite and the others.
When we say leader, we are implying a relationship between the leader and the people he or she leads. The quality of leadership depends on the caliber of the relationship between the members of the group, of which one is the leader.
The task of the leader is to participate in the accomplishment of a project, or the making of a decision, but there is a better way to fulfill this role than the conventional and dated one we’ve come to accept. There is a way to lead others that not only renders the position of “leader” obsolete but empowers the group as no one person can.
If a leader’s role is to effectively guide a team in the achievement of a goal, then he or she should aspire to the highest evolution of a team – a community.
In a community, no one has to have all the answers because no one has to carry the burden of leadership alone. A true community is a group of all leaders. In a community, the people are as committed to the group as they are to the task at hand. In a community, the members enjoy meaningful connections with one another, personal ones. In a community of individuals who have learned to communicate authentically with one another, there is camaraderie, respect, and support. In a true community, the group arrives at decisions by drawing on the gifts, talents, and experiences of all the members: A community uses consensus when making decisions.
A skilled leader is one who guides the group into community. Once the group has evolved into community, the role of the leader is changed because now there are caring, supportive, committed, collaborative, authentic people who will assume leadership roles, as needed, and as their skills dictate. Community building transforms the relationship between the leader and the people he or she leads as it transforms all the relationships within the group.
What is the most important skill a leader needs? The ability to lead a group into community.
Do you agree, disagree? What would you add?
Photo Credit: Lucky Lynda