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Leadership, is there a fixed model to follow?

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

Your leadership skills can be a critical element for your career fulfillment and aspiration. Leadership is essential for making you as well as your organisation successful. There are several essential skills that need to be learned and mastered in order to become more effective leaders; skills like being visionary, influencing others, inspiring our teams, and being charismatic. But, isn’t there a model that we can simply follow to become effective leaders? Can we just follow the steps of Steve Jobs or Jack Welch to be like them? Or develop the habits of Steven Covey in order to become more effective leaders?

In leadership, there is no one size fits all. Leadership is about being firm on your vision and malleable in your ways.

In leadership, there is no one size fits all. Leadership is about being firm on your vision and malleable in your ways.

While we may find several people who got promoted telling us the main reason for the step up in their career path was because they followed the ‘Job’s way’ or the ‘Welchian style’ of leadership, unfortunately this is usually not the whole truth, and there is usually another thing, or things that they’ve done in order to be promoted. And away from landing a promotion, developing true leadership cannot be achieved by following a leadership model or imitating a leader to the dot. And here are the reasons: 1) those leaders have most of the leadership skills, but at different portions. It is their hared search or their instinct –or sometimes their pure luck—that landed them in environments where their prominent skills fit the most.

Steve Jobs was a true visionary, but he wasn’t the man of much use of his Emotional Intelligence, he led people through his vision and forward thinking and let that thinking push people to move forward, without putting much effort in convincing them or being empathetic to their feelings. If he was working in a different environment where people had their own agendas and ambitions and wanted to take the lead he would’ve probably stumbled into several hiccups before even starting his first project, 2) the leadership model you’re trying to follow may not be 100% complete, and there may be other aspects that are not so clear to you that helped those leaders succeed with the model they followed.

Nelson Mandela was indeed a great leader, and I believe he saved South Africa from falling into a civil war. But can other leaders follow the same steps of this great African president to unite their countries? Most probably not, because Mandela’s model was fortunate to have the support of the whole world that agreed—which rarely happens—that there should be no civil wars in South Africa. So if you’re trying to do the same thing that Mandela did it may not be enough to have Mandela’s charisma and popularity, or his emotional intelligence and resilience, you may need some Churchilean sneakiness to navigate your way through the turbulent waters of foreign policy.

Back to the world of business and career fulfillment, my advice is:

1. Work on the essentials: Being visionary, influencing others, ability to create and work with teams, being charismatic, and having high emotional intelligence with the communication skills to back it up are all essential skills for any leader.

2. Understand the environment: Have a clear understanding of the business environment around you: What does it value the most? What does it fear the most? How is success defined in this environment? And what are the things it doesn’t tolerate? Try to understand the people you’re working with as well. Learn what makes a great leader in their eyes, and what attributes they value the most in their leaders.

3. Build your leadership profile and model based on your findings: work on the portions of each of your leadership essentials so they all can fit the environment you’re working in. A company that is full of old veterans needs a great deal of emotional intelligence to be embraced as a leader, while being visionary and an influencer are essential traits to grow if working with younger generations. A team without a clear long-term goal will need your visionary skill to lead them along, while employees with a clear overall goal but can’t work together will need your teaming-up skills to make them work together in harmony.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” ~ John F. Kennedy

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