What Exactly Is 21st. Century Leadership?

Have You Got What It Takes?

Everywhere you look there is another book on leadership. Typically they showcase individuals with skills and abilities we mere mortals could never hope to have.

The secret of leadership is often discussed by entrepreneurs who want to sell us their special formula for achieving leadership success. Many of these gurus, through their very profitable books and seminars - ones that association heads and meeting planners, along with corporate people and self-actualization junkies are so crazy about - should really be called motivation instead of leadership related.

Then there are the Mega leaders of vast enterprises - people whose names we all know who have lead their organizations to greatness - and even to great failures they will now gladly tell everyone how to avoid. Often when you sift through the rhetoric you see elements of their leadership equation that you can not possibly duplicate.

The enterprises they ran have virtually unlimited resources - if you throw enough money at an idea it just may work, especially if its cost is hidden in vast budgets and it wasn't your money anyway.

These Mega leaders have access to other people at their level, they are on each other's speed dials, people with whom to do the deals that made them famous - if not rich to boot. They know these well placed people on a first name basis that the rest of us could spend a lifetime and still not get past the receptionist. They are part of the club.

Why are these leaders, popular fiction for regular folks like us, so incredibly popular? These leaders are charismatic, they are well spoken, and they ARE in fact celebrities. And we all love our celebrities! Even though their ideas are not actionable for us and only a tiny percentage of what they offer is transferable to us does not matter. We feel good hearing their story.

For most of us leadership is defined by our experiences. We are emotionally charged by our individual perceptions when we are asked to define leadership; let's face it, leaders are always looked upon with glamour and awe. Those of us who aspire to be leaders often just copy the actions and behavior of business leaders we respect without ever knowing what it really means to be a good leader.

A great leader listens to the insights of their employees before responding. Your employees want to give you their ideas, share their concerns about the business, and pass along information and general day to day chit chat. Please avoid distractions and interrupting - even when you already know the answer. Always let your employee have their say, especially when you are already prepared to disagree with them - you might learn something that changes your mind.

And be sure to let your employee finish their communication - you must show respect for their ideas if you expect to receive their respect for yours. We all have a natural desire to be heard and allowing employees to finish their thoughts - often something they have put a great deal of effort into, goes a long way in building the respect you need in order to lead.

So what makes a great leader you ask? Are there any proven leadership development formulas that can be duplicated? Apparently there aren't or we would have read the book by now and becoming a leader would be simple, if not downright easy. Let's face it, if being a leader was easy - everybody would already be one and we would not be so consumed with learning the secret - the key, the shortcut to leadership.

The fact is of course that there is no single formula for leadership success. Needless to say when we add the human factor into any formula we have added unique variables into every possible equation. People are unique, situations are unique, and the circumstances of every business are unique. There seem to be as many leadership development formulas for business leadership success as there are successful leaders.

So, what are the characteristics of an every day leader? If you ask anyone about leadership, what it is, how do you get it, and how do you recognize it, you will undoubtedly get so many answers, most of which are probably be right - that you would be no better off than you were before you posed the question.

Many people naturally believe that leadership is a talent one is born with, some think it is a skill that can be acquired. Either way, leadership, particularly business leadership has a single straightforward and simple meaning.

In a nutshell, business leadership is the ability, however acquired, to consistently influence others - especially those who look to us for guidance. In other words, it is the ability to attract followers and influence their actions and attitudes at work.

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