Practical Leadership: Leading Vs Leadership
It can be easy to talk about leadership in the theoretical sense – what qualities and traits make a good leader, which styles are appropriate – but it is in the actual practice of leadership that many people fall down. There can be a distinct difference between leadership and leading – and some may show great potential for the former but then fail when applied to the latter.
Naturally, different personalities (both of the leader and the followers) and different circumstances call for different ways to do things – however, there are certain steps to keep in mind which can help a person not only show leadership but also actually lead.
1) Have A Strong Vision And Communicate It
A good leader must first personally develop a vision for the group, business or organisation and this vision must support the group or organisation’s goals. Thus knowing the mission of an organisation is essential in determining a leader’s vision. Once this vision has been formed, it must be described in general terms and then communicated to the team, who then themselves develop the specific objectives and resources required to achieve this vision.
2) Establish Clear Goals
Without goals, progress is slow, inefficient and often misdirected. Therefore, establishing clear goals is an important part of leading. This should be done with the active participation of the rest of the team and while they should reflect the overall vision (described above), they can be more focused and specific. One example of a goal is: “the organization must reduce transportation costs”.
3) Define The Objectives
Definable objectives are a clear way to provide a measure of progress and the organisation’s movement towards achievement of the overall vision. It is essentially the strategy for turning a vision into reality. Objectives should be defined in precise measurable terms. Continuing the example from above (No.2) – an example of an objective would be: "by the end of the next quarter, the shipping department will use one parcel service for shipping items under 100 pounds and one motor carrier for shipping items over a hundred pounds."
4) Determine And Assign The Tasks
In order to accomplish the objectives, specific tasks must be determined and assigned to the appropriate team members with the right skill sets and experience to tackle them. Again, like objectives, tasks are concrete and measurable. Continuing the example from above, an example of a task would be: “The transportation coordinator will obtain detailed shipping rates from at least 10 motor carriers."
5) Set Up A Timeline And Prioritise
In order to maximise efficiency, it is important to establish a priority for the tasks to be done, especially as many tasks require others to be completed in a chain before them, before they can be started. Time is valuable and establishing priorities helps to determine the order of tasks and their relative important in accomplishing the objectives. And example of a timeline, in the situation outlined above, would be: "The shipping rates will be obtained by May 9".
6) Follow-up, Check And Measure
Once the project has been set in motion, it is a good leader’s responsibility to follow-up and measure progress and to check that the team is doing what is required of them. This also demonstrates the leader’s commitment in seeing a project through to a successful conclusion.