Monday, September 28, 2009

Leadership for beginners

I often find myself chatting with wannabe leaders who are struggling to be heard. Leadership is such a desirable quality that not achieving it is too hard to bare. Why do some seem to be oozing with leadership from every dimple in their perfectly chisled faces and yet for others it seems so damn hard?

Leadership is hard. Even for the motivatonal gurus we place on pedestals. It takes practice, mistakes, reading, learning, listening and experimenting. It's a skill. And like all skills, you have to work hard to obtain them.

On a recent read of Malcolm Gladwell's new title 'Outliers' he unearths the 10,000 hour rule. This rule explains why professionals at the top of their game, no matter if it is sport, music, business... anything, they achieve their ability through continuous hard work. 10,000 hours of the stuff. Something the gurus have devoted their careers too.

It's not hard to see why we find ourselves struggling to be seen as leaders when so much is needed to become one. Sure, charisma and style go to count towards someone being thought of as a leader. But being a leader requires so much more.

The advice here is not to be to quick to think you're a leader, nor too quick to suppose you'll never be one. Natural leadership fails to exist without nurture. Whilst it might take some of us our entire adult working lives to become one, becoming one is in itself a tremendous experience from which all those around you can benefit.

A little analogy I offer to those that find it so hard:

"The leader is not the shepherd whistling out his orders from afar. A leader is his dog, in amongst all of the sheep, working hard to get the best out of each and every one."

In business you need the shepherd, the manager, to instruct and provide. You also need your flock, you and me, to make the business flourish. And whilst sometimes seemingly too few, you'll find the leaders, keeping the flock together and driving the business forward.


  1. Great post. Excellent points you raise.

    Ripple On!!!

  2. Good one on leadership and it helps a lot.

    Karim - Mind Power