This is a paper I wrote for a college class. I hope you enjoy.
Ronald Reagan says it pretty clearly; "The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things." All people crave leadership. What makes up leadership, and how can it be defined. How does leadership effect your organization and life? When I speak of the organization, it could mean family, community, workplace or anywhere that people interact. Every organization benefits from strong, thoughtful leadership. To understand leadership, we must first define leadership. Once leadership is defined, we will determine the qualities of a leader. Finally we will discuss what leadership is not. Leadership is the foundation for success, from leadership great things happen, and without it so much can go wrong.
Leadership can easily be defined as influence (Maxwell 6). The ability to influence others to accomplish the mission, whatever that me be at the time. There is a time for everyone to step up and lead, whether in the work place, at home, or in their communities. Why do so few people take that step forward to lead? To become a leader, you must be willing to endure some level of discomfort. Leaders put themselves out in front of those around them, and this requires courage . When a person steps to the front, they put themselves in the unenviable position to receive criticism and ridicule. Leaders look for opportunities to improve the conditions for others, even when no personal gain is to be made for themselves (Viscuso 25). Too often, people do not recognize that leadership can happen from anywhere in the organization, not just the top. The fortunate senior person has many leaders working toward the goals of the organization, not leaders working against them (Crosby). Yes, if allowed to occur, there will be leaders in the group whom are attempting to lead people away from the goals. This comes from not having a strong mission statement for the organization.
“Firefighters are a special breed. Any person who is willing to run into a burning building, even a follower, is still exhibiting an essential leadership quality-the ability to put the needs of others ahead of one’s own” (Viscuso 7). Are leaders born with those innate abilities to get others to follow, or are leaders developed through a life of experience? So many people have written leadership books, speak on leadership and still people have a burning desire to learn more. So what are the qualities that make up great leadership, and how do they influence the leader. The first and maybe the most important is that to be a good leader, you must first be a follower (Lasky, 77). A follower is someone who is engaged and understands the direction that must be taken, and from that engagement can lead the group. “A leader’s job is to look into the future and see his or her organization, not as it is, but as it will be” (Viscuso 17). Leaders are assertive and let everyone know what the expectations are, and why those expectations are important. Leaders are enthusiastic about what they are doing, because they know that they are accomplishing things for the benefit of others, which leads to selflessness. Selflessness comes from seeing that others and the mission are succeeding and not seeking the recognition for themselves. Leaders are tough yet empathetic. Leaders hold the standard, and still have an understanding for the limitations and emotions of the people around them (Nieuwhof). Those qualities are learned and nurtured from experiences and encouragement from all those around the individuals throughout their lives. Being a great leader is not just about those qualities or attributes, they are the foundation that starts first and foremost with character (Wooden 74).
Warren G. Bennis is famous for make this statement, “Managers do things right. Leaders do the right thing.” The fortunate organization is one that has a leader/manager. The leader/manager not only can see that the day to day operations are being handled, but can look to the future with a vision of where the group needs to go for future growth and success. Some managers drive the organization through manipulation. The most common emotional button that seasoned manipulators push is fear. These include: Fear for safety, Fear for security, Fear of harm, Fear of loss, Fear of punishment (Ross). A leader uses influence to encourage people to move forward and make changes that will benefit the whole of the organization not fear. Change can create fear, the leader does the right things to show why the changes are necessary instead of the “do it or else” mentality. Without leadership, the organization wanders aimlessly stuck in the status quo. A leader can see the future and works to change the status quo and seeks continuous improvement. A leader looks for ways to improve the things that can go wrong and seeks optimum performance, while the manager waits for mistakes to occur and dishes out punishment.
Great leadership takes an organization to new levels. Leaders seek opportunities to put others interests ahead of their own. They do not seek to take the glory for themselves. “The leader recognizes that the star of the team is the team” (Wooden 130)
Crosby, Frank. "The Real Meaning of Brotherhood." Fire Engineering. PennWell, 1 July 2007. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.
Lasky, Rick. Pride & Ownership: A Firefighter's Love of the Job. Tulsa, Okla.: PennWell, 2006. Print.
Maxwell, John C. Developing the leader within you. Thomas Nelson Inc., 1993.
Nieuwhof, Carey. "21 Things You'll Never Regret As a Leader - Carey Nieuwhof." Carey Nieuwhof. 6 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.
Ross, Sandra. "The Unquintessential Leader Trait of Manipulation." The Quintessential Leader. 14 Oct. 2015. Web. 25 Oct. 2015.
Viscuso, Frank. Step up and Lead. Tulsa, Okla.: PennWell, 2013. Print.
Wooden, John, and Steve Jamison. Wooden on Leadership. New York: McGraw-Hill, 200