Who we are is how we lead

What is leadership truly about?

It’s about people, about teams, groups, and organizations. By definition, a leader is a person who is in charge of the organization and all its departments. 

Is leadership important?

Good leadership enables teams, groups, and organizations to grow and prosper. On the other hand, poor leadership lowers the quality of life for every person forming the team, group, or organization.

How to define leadership and why does it matter?

Our personality is a window into our leadership, as these two worlds overlap each other. Nobody can draw the line between their work and their personal lives. The way we behave at home influences the way we behave at work, or other any environment, for that matter.

Leadership, which is the key to organizational effectiveness has become one of the most important topics recently and needs to be correctly understood. History teaches us that it, if anything, it’s the leadership that has always helped groups survive.

It’s in our nature

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Based on a long-term research conducted by Dr. Robert Hogan, personality consists of two major elements: our nature as humans (what we are like on the inside) and our individual differences (elements that make us somehow unique).

Dr. Robert Hogan based his studies and personality analysis on the following concept: people are defined on two levels—what do they think about themselves and what do others think about them. It comes down to the person’s identity and reputation among others. Our identity comes from our deepest beliefs—it’s hard to understand, control, and study. Our reputation can be easily changed, we develop it all the time. The most important thing about our reputation is that each one of us has her or his “bright” and “dark” sides.

Our “bright side” is the initial impression we make on others, how we perform in social situations, for example, on our first date, or a job interview. Our “dark side” refers to an impression we make on others when we are at our worst, for example, stressed, sick, or intoxicated. To put it in other words, you meet the “bright-side” person at the job interview and the “dark-side” person is the one that shows up to work.

What is also hard-coded in us as humans?

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Humans live in organized communities. As gregarious animals, we have always had and will always have a hierarchical system. There are people at the top, in the middle, and at the bottom. During our evolution process, we have always tried to get along with each other and somehow define our status. What is a leader’s role here? They are skilled to build relationships and acquire status. At least they should be. It means their leadership should be evaluated in terms of the group performance over time.

To be able to measure how a leader actually performs, we need to know more about leadership models.

1. Domain model

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It includes four competence classes:

  • Intrapersonal skills (managing your own emotions)
  • Interpersonal skills (managing relationships)
  • Business skills (planning, coordinating, and monitoring business activities)
  • Leadership skills (building and motivating highly efficient teams)

This model is developmental. It means that you, as a human being, develop your intrapersonal skills first and others later on, with leadership at the end. The second very important thing is that this model is a hierarchy of increasing trainability. It means that it’s the hardest to develop and maintain your intrapersonal skills at the top level, but the easiest to learn the leadership element.

2. Implicit model

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It includes all we seek in our leaders:

  • Credibility (staying true to ourselves and our subordinates): There is a clear correlation between trust in one’s supervision and positive leadership outcomes, for example, high performance, commitment.
  • Good decisions made at the right time: Decisiveness is equally valuable in crisis as it is under normal conditions.
  • Competency: They contribute a lot within a team they lead.
  • Ability to create a vision and to explain it to a group.

A good leader knows what is the team doing and why. Napoleon once noted that “leaders are dealers in hope”. Leaders use their vision to create and clarify roles, goals and plan ahead so that their teams could follow. 

Personality vs. leadership

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In 2002, based on years of research and experience, Timothy A. Judge from the University of Florida created a five-factor model: a taxonomy of the “bright side” of human’s personality.

The dimensions of the model are: Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Emotional Stability, and Openness. Emotional Stability and Conscientiousness are associated with the first element of the domain model—intrapersonal skills, Extraversion and Agreeableness are connected with the second domain—interpersonal skills, and Openness is related to the vision—leadership skills.

Always, above all, keep in mind what Napoleon said:

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