Leader of the pack: what makes up
effective leadership ability?
By Kelly Marcella
Gazette file photo
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. ESPOUSED THE ARTICULATION AND VISION OF A STRONG
LEADER. Few speakers have matched the fervour and passionate goals of
King since his death.
With all this talk of leadership, the question still begs to be answered. What
exactly is it that makes a good leader?
Is it charisma or efficiency? Perhaps good leaders are people who delegate
tasks or maybe it’s those who choose to do the work themselves. Articulation,
confidence, motivation, passion — the list is endless.
Amidst all these qualities, is there some underlying essence of good leadership?
Is leadership something learned or inherent in your personality? Is there even
an effective or qualitative way of assessing strong leadership abilities?
Many seem to assume leadership can be learned, with endless job seminars and
preparation courses on how to improve leadership skills. But there is such
a thing as a born or natural leader — some people are just able to take
active control over a situation and direct a positive outcome.
According to the Canadian Leadership Corporation, “the essence of a
great leader is a vision for a desirable future result.” Without a doubt,
someone who leads must provide some overarching goal which followers can relate
and strive towards. Some of the greatest leaders of the modern world transcended
multiple boundaries primarily through the articulation of their personal visions;
Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech speaks
directly to his dream for America’s future.
Obviously, leaders require followers, and the key to great leadership is in
respecting those who provide support. “There is a personal bond between
the leader and each follower. Depending on the number of followers, it may
not be possible for the leader to actually know each and every follower, but
each follower must believe that there would be a personal bond if they were
to meet,” the CLC says.
Leaders provide ample opportunity for supporters to develop their own ideas
and strategies, and help direct actions through the most efficient means to
achieving goals, the CLC adds. Whether it is through delegation or personal
action, leaders must be able to direct and realize a concrete outcome.
There is a precarious balance maintained between idealist and realist concepts
as it pertains to leaders. Providing goals and vision has to be supported through
some sort of practical and concrete directive — blowing hot air at people
will only carry someone so far.
But the first questions still remain unanswered. Leaders arise for many different
reasons and through diverse means. It seems almost impossible to develop a
general outline of a perfect leader. There are very public leaders and advocates,
such as politicians and activists, and there are those people who lead simply
through actions in their own lives. While King preached civil rights to the
public, Rosa Parks led by example through a single action as part of her regular
The contrast between styles of leadership is so wide ranging that leadership
remains an elusive concept. Some leaders are born out of their own situations,
some seem to be naturally fitted to direct others, while others develop the
confidence and flair to take charge through maturity.
Leaders will be leaders, it’s human nature — we just have to remember
to make sure we are following the right people.
—with files from www.canlead.com