The leader in me

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By Kibnesh C. Fulas
I attended executive leadership training at the beginning of the year. It was one of the most effective and insightful seminar that I ever participated on leadership. The training allows me to define leadership, evaluate myself as a leader and identify my strength as well as points of improvements.
The best definition of leadership that I could come up is “it is the ability to communicate, inspire and influence others to follow and act towards realizing the common vision.” This statement has key words like communication, inspiring, action, common vision, which are essential in meaningful leadership. There needs to be a common goal or vision in the first place for the leadership to prevail.
Who is a leader?
A leader must be good communicator to ensure that there is a common understanding of the goal within the team. Leaders must listen, understand and be understood. It is very important for me to realize the significance of understanding how you are perceived as a leader by the others. After all what people think of you matters, especially if those people are the one you want to lead.
Not all leaders are inspiring but the effective ones make you want to follow them. That is what makes a leader different from a manager. There may not necessarily be a legal binding for you to follow the example of a leader but her or his action, principles, mission etc inspire and influence you to follow them. This is why we see some people without a rank but having better influence on a team and be opinion leaders than the ones in higher position.
A leader must lead to action as the whole essence of leadership is achieving the vision. Otherwise the vision will remain a dream. Hence good leaders have to get things done, and must be able to achieve their goals. But how they achieve their goal distinguishes them as a leader. The best leaders have inspired others and they have followers who are behind the wheel. This brings in the element of flexibility. Leaders should know when to direct and when to let others take the lead. They should not necessarily be in the front all the time.
I believe that a person’s leadership style is highly shaped by his/her personality traits, which is formed by culture, education, and life experience. The people that I work with, lived with, or met briefly have left some mark in who I am. I think presenting my personal principles and traits say a lot as to who I am as a leader. There is no one best leadership style, it depends on circumstances and looking into my personality tells better as to what style am going to adopt in different circumstances.
I see myself as open minded, objective and practical person. Being open minded help one to listen and avoid prejudice. I am always ready to learn and face new challenges and this is probably the major factor, which made me reach where I am at the moment.
I don’t often find myself attracted to unrealistic goals like ‘changing the world’. Not that I don’t want this world to change, but I want to spend my energy on something that I can accomplish. I believe that I change the world if I start with aiming at changing a village, a small community, or a group. I am a strong advocate of bottom up approach or starting with a small. This allows me to be part of bigger cause.
Among several talks that I have heard this year, one statement that stays with me and I relate to is about building a cathedral. We have to see ourselves like those people in the medieval period, who built cathedrals. They might not lived to see the end result, but they knew that their cathedral would not come up without their contribution. This is useful to keep in mind specially for someone like me who is in the sector, which is facing a number of challenges and could be frustrating most of the times.
A leader must have core value that she or he lives by. Respect, trust, honesty, and positive thinking are my principles; l live by them regardless of where I am, what I do or who I interact with. This traits that define me and are reflected in my leadership.