Explaining and understanding the nature of good leadership is probably easier than practising it. Good leadership requires deep human qualities, beyond conventional notions of authority.
In the modern age good leaders are an enabling force, helping people and organizations to perform and develop, which implies that a sophisticated alignment be achieved – of people’s needs, and the aims of the organization.
The traditional concept of a leader being the directing chief at the top of a hierachy is nowadays a very incomplete appreciation of what true leadership must be.
Effective leadership does not necessarily require great technical or intellectual capacity. These attributes might help, but they are not pivotal.
Good leadership in the modern age more importantly requires attitudes and behaviours which characterise and relate to humanity.
Leadership is centrally concerned with people. Of course leadership involves decisions and actions relating to all sorts of other things, but leadership is special compared to any other role because of its unique responsibilty for people – i.e., the followers of the leader – in whatever context leadership is seen to operate.
Many capabilities in life are a matter of acquiring skills and knowledge and then applying them in a reliable way. Leadership is quite different. Good leadership demands emotional strengths and behavioural characteristics which can draw deeply on a leader’s mental and spiritual reserves.
The leadership role is an inevitable reflection of people’s needs and challenges in modern life. Leadership is therefore a profound concept, with increasingly complex implications, driven by an increasingly complex and fast-changing world.
Leadership and management are commonly seen as the same thing, which they are not. Leadership is also misunderstood to mean directing and instructing people and making important decisions on behalf of an organization. Effective leadership is much more than these.
Good leaders are followed chiefly because people trust and respect them, rather than the skills they possess. Leadership is about behaviour first, skills second.