The management theorist Peter Drucker once said that "Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes." Robert Louis Stevenson advised "Keep your fears to yourself, but share your inspiration with others." Ronald Reagan said "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." whilst John F Kennedy thought that ""Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.".
In truth, there are as many definitions of leadership as there are leaders. What is clear is that leadership is not the same as management; and it has little to do with job titles, seniority, or being an extrovert.
From a personal perspective, consider the following...
What is my style?
There are a great many experts who propose one leadership style above others and are happy to sell the book that goes with it. However, the common thread through with all styles is relationships. Obviously, this is the relationship with others, but also that with yourself. The root of anyone’s leadership style is in their personal values.
How others see us
There are many tools available to understand our impact on those around us. It is important to use whatever’s necessary to see the inevitable blind spots. Seeking feedback and using psychometric tests can be useful. Of course, all information is only of value if it is the basis for action when necessary.
While much sits on the shoulders of the Business Leader, they can’t do it alone. Their team is essential. Building good teams is a great skill, but sometimes a leader inherits a team. That’s where challenges often lie as the necessary reconfiguring of a team may not be comfortable.
A business leader’s role will inevitably come with challenges. A leader must, therefore, be able to manage their own resilience. This might be as basic as maintaining a regular sleep pattern, eating well and keeping fit. It also includes developing strategies to monitor and mange their internal energy levels, regardless of what’s going on outside.
A business leader’s position can be a lonely one. It is important that a strong leader creates supportive connections both inside and outside their organisation. This can include mentors from within their industry or profession.
What is your purpose - what do you believe - and how does this extend through into your business? Great leaders have a deep-rooted sense of purpose that guides and directs their words and actions. What is your "why"?
Further reading: for a modern take on leadership, try Simon Sinek's Start with Why.