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Eleven Theorems on Leadership

02/28/2014 02:58 pm ET | Updated Apr 29, 2014

Our world needs inspiring leaders who will communicate openly to achieve engagement and create ecosystems of trust for progress and development. As we look around, we witness many prominent leaders influencing the lives of thousands (even millions) under different scenarios. Some of them are gifted, charismatic leaders; they know how to do good for their people, they know how to lead through inspiration, relevance, motivation.
I will attempt to explain the eleven core competencies that define a good leader, I will call them '11 Theorems on Leadership'. I will also look into the wisdom of world acclaimed change makers, trailblazers, pioneers who have excelled in politics, business, sciences, society.

As a true leader you need to:

  • Grow Yourself
  • Be Fearless
  • Act
  • Inspire
  • Empower
  • Relate
  • Influence
  • Innovate
  • Motivate
  • Learn
  • Imagine

Theorem 1: Grow Yourself

Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others - Jack Welch

Growth is an on-going process. 21st century leaders are expected to exercise transformational leadership where they need to engage and develop the followers in ways that are realistic. Sticking to old competencies only, would eventually render us obsolete in this ever changing world. Thus, a leader needs to keep thinking out of the box and strengthen new competencies throughout their group.

Theorem 2: Be Fearless

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership - Nelson Mandela

An emerging concept of servant leadership implies that a leader must act as a shepherd that leads the flock form behind as Wong & Davey contend, and make the people win their success themselves. Yet, a leader always acts as a human shield that safeguards his people from external and internal threats, a very important point highlighted by Robert Sutton in the Harvard Business Review; and goes fearless in making hard decisions when the time calls for it.

Theorem 3: Act

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader - John Quincy Adams

A man's actions determine whether he is a true leader or not and these actions need to be backed by an intention to create inspiration and admiration. Leaders are meant to spark creativity within their people, desire to seek knowledge and achieve more by leading through example.

Theorem 4: Inspire

The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and will to carry on. -- Walter Lippmann

Effective leaders own charismatic personalities that have the power to influence and inspire people. Professor Edwin Hollander believes that attributes like receptiveness, effective communication, legitimacy and morality are found to be significant in inspiring the followers.

Theorem 5: Empower

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others - Bill Gates

A shift has occurred in the world's perception about the role of leaders. They are expected to empower their people to perform and excel, they are expected to manage effectively, with vision and profound understanding of global trends, with perception of weak signals.

Theorem 6: Relate

Leaders must be close enough to relate to others, but far enough ahead to motivate them - John C. Maxwell

Good leaders are expected to have empathy with the people. At times, they need to 'step down' to have a closer look at the situation, emotions and expectations of the people say Speckhart & Grayson of Regent University, alongside, they must foresee the upcoming challenges and prepare others to deal with them.

Theorem 7: Influence

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority - Kenneth Blanchard

In today's world people choose their own leaders evaluating them on the basis of influential powers they possess. They don't like to be commanded rather comprehended; thus, leaders need to build respectful relationship and emotional bonding with the followers.

Theorem 8: Innovate

Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better - Harry S. Truman

Leaders blend their knowledge and intuition to make innovations. They never follow; go outrageous; yet they evaluate all the pros and cons of their actions. They keep hawk-eyes on emerging opportunities, innovate and establish new stepping stones for their followers.

Theorem 9: Motivate

"In motivating people, you've got to engage their minds and their hearts. It is good business to have an employee feel part of the entire effort . . . ; I motivate people, I hope, by example--and perhaps by excitement, by having provocative ideas to make others feel involved." -- Rupert Murdoch

Leaders must show great passion for the cause to motivate the employees. Motivation could be generated by fulfilling the physiological, social and self-esteem needs of the followers. Empowering, encouraging risk-taking and appreciation also work significantly in sparking the motivational factor within the people.

Theorem 10: Learn

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other - John F. Kennedy

Good leaders are the ones who are always open to learning something new whether it is transmitted from upwards or downwards i.e. from followers. They must screen themselves to find the shortcomings and keep learning to upgrade their skills and abilities.

Theorem 11: Imagine

A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be -- Rosalynn Carter

Great leaders have the power to envision. They foresee what is in the best interest of the people and lead them to those milestones. This implies that their vision be explicitly communicated to the people as no one would ever follow a leader with an ambiguous idea.

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