OF LEADERS AND FOLLOWERS

 

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At this stage of human civilization, no country or society is so disadvantaged as to necessitate permanent damage to its citizens’ standard of living. In our interdependent world, each society has its own natural resources, human traits, weather conditions or other peculiar endowment which gives it a relative advantage and can be  exploited for the development of its people. The best countries are not necessarily the richest in natural resources and the worst countries are not necessarily the richest in natural resources. In a free world where knowledge is global and learning is encouraged, modern techniques and technology are freely available for common use. The factor that most distinguishes the levels of development as we go from one society to another is, therefore, not wealth of resources but wealth of leadership. Consequently, those countries with democratic cultures and a history of selfless, enlightened and progressive leadership make rapid progress while those with opposing qualities lag behind.

Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent. The essence of leadership is the ability to affect human behavior so as to accomplish a mission. Every society must have a shared vision which should be constantly articulated by its leaders. Most importantly, those leaders must be capable of influencing all members of society to move towards the set goal. Leadership includes but goes beyond management. As Peter Drucker puts it, “management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” If the wrong goals are set or, for lack of effective communication, the right goals are nor appreciated by the people, doing the right things may well lead everyone to the wrong destination.

To get the best results, it is not enough for the leader to want the end result; the followers must also be persuaded to desire the same end. They must have bought into the vision of the leader. For this reason, former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower defined leadership as the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.

It is now axiomatic that the best form of leadership by example. The leader is necessarily a role model. Consequently, he is expected to know his job and at the same time have a solid familiarity with the tasks of his followers. It is not enough for a leader to tell people how to do things, he needs to tell them what to do and show them how. Delegating works best when the one delegating works too. On delegation, Theodore Roosevelt advises that the best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.
This is the sense in which the leader must himself be a follower. A leader must appreciate and respect his followers, always looking out for their well-being. Like the leader, subordinates will not always be smooth. A leader needs therefore be tolerant and quick to offer due assistance. He must be astute to detect and correct little frictions which, if left unattended, may destroy team spirit.

In an organization , there are, necessarily, various tiers of leadership. The President leads the Executive Council. The directors/ministers leads in their various departments, all leads in their respective spheres. Nevertheless, this system is intricately interlinked. All must work towards the same broad objectives and elaborated upon in several other goal setting documents. Every leader at every level then becomes a dealer in hope. Failure of leadership at one level, no matter how high or low in the pyramid affects the entire system and pulls everyone back.
What then are the important characteristics of a leader? How should a leader go about his mission? Successful leaders lead by applying their leadership attributes, such as knowledge, skills, beliefs, values, ethics, and character. Although leadership positions confer power and authority to accomplish certain tasks and objectives in the organization, this power and authority does not make the leader, it can only makes him the boss. Leadership differs in that it makes the followers want to achieve high goals, rather than simply oblige and obey the boss.
The truth is that you can only lead by serving. Have you paused to reflect on that particular colleague, friend to whom you unhesitatingly share your problems, ask for information, and rely on to look after your back. Have you ask yourself why it is always him or her and no one else? I assure you that if you ask these questions and reflect, the only answer will be that he or she is the one that often solves the problem by getting those things that bother us done. The leader of the people is their servant.

For this, a sense of belonging must be nurtured in all – leader and followers. Mutual respect and appreciation are essentials of effective team building. Writers on this all important subject have suggested that, to a leader, the five most important words are “You did a good job”
The four most important words are “what is your opinion?”
The two most important words are “if you please.”
The one most important word is “We.”
And the least important word is “I.”
We can all build team spirit and inspire success attitudes  by keeping these principles in mind always.