Leadership is a rather wide area to explore. However, lets focus on some of the basic ideas of what a good leader should keep in mind.
Leadership is about influencing
A leader guides those he/she heads to attain the ultimate goal of the organisation and directly/indirectly helps team members attain their personal goals.
We should not forget that “Leadership comes from God” (Rom. 13:1) and should never be taken for granted. When accepting a leadership position, one should pray and weigh seriously his/her capabilities and weaknesses so that he/she may accept or not. Leaders should be chosen by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Reason “God’s crowning gift to Humankind” is because the choice of a leader does not affect those in the organisation only but the entire society and the future generations.
Love of God and neighbour:
Love will translate to the ‘Golden rule’; do to others what you want to be done to you and vice versa. When we put the needs and the feelings of the ‘other’ at the centre of our leadership, there will be peace and harmony. St. Benedict says that a leader should not show personal preference, must not be more loving to one than another unless he has found him more advanced in good works. All loving people promote justice and uphold human rights.
Knowledge of the resources available:
A leader’s success is highly determined by how well he or she has worked with his/her team. The most important resource of any organisation is human resource. Optimum ability to use the resources at hand translates to high productivity and satisfaction. A leader should always focus on helping and creating unity within the team. It’s not who is in charge that is most important, but keeping people motivated and making sure that the team remains focused on its goals.
Leading by example:
All great leaders lead by example. Jesus did this when He washed the feet of His disciples; John 13:1-17. After washing their feet, He told them to do the same for each other. We can never go wrong if we lead by example; that is why many people use the phrase “moral authority”. One has moral authority only if he or she is able to “walk the talk.”
Having faith in his/her beliefs:
When one has strong conviction in what he/she does, then others follow suit. Here, one is able to make hard decisions and communicate them to others with firmness, conviction and clarity. It’s important to be truthful, humble and straight forward. This brings us to communication skills which does not only mean putting across what you want to say but also having the ability to listen and take appropriate actions.
Earning respect from the people is very important. As the saying goes “you get what you give”. If you respect your team, they will respect you in return but if you despise them, then you get exactly that. Respect goes hand in hand with love, empathy and care which are all attributes of a great leader.
Being ambitious but not for themselves:
They serve with humility; for instance, Mother Teresa helping the poorest of the poor of this world or St. John Paul fighting communism. They have trust in God and in turn, He helps and blesses their efforts. It’s very important to have God fearing leaders. The main purpose of their leadership is service and the “other person” is at the centre, not self.
Jealousy is a terrible cancer in leaders:
It goes hand in hand with self-centeredness. In organisations where there is jealousy, there is no team work, no delegation, people don’t use their talents to the maximum, there are cliques, minimum use of available resources and lies etc. Such leaders kill organisations and communities. The main cause of jealousy is insecurity and low self-esteem.
One thing people usually forget is that we complement each other. Leaders should learn to appreciate and look at others as colleagues and not as competitors. Leaders have to learn that at a given time, they will have to hand it over to other people. Having that in mind, we should always remember that great leaders create and nurture other leaders.
Have their organisations, employees and the universe at heart.
Human dignity is paramount in all human interactions. Upholding human dignity is a big motivation which comes with success at all levels. Good leadership gives people a chance to lead a full and rich human life. These are leaders who are flexible and able to judge wisely. Charity is the measuring rod in whatever they do.
By Sr. John Paul (Angela) Marunga OSB
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