Is leadership a role, a person, a characteristic, a relationship, a set of factors, or all of the above? While many professionals embrace a results-oriented meaning specific to a given situation, the academic response to this riddle is “yes” or perhaps “it depends”. Despite the availability of numerous theories and models, the common understanding of leadership today appears to be that of the lone hero leader at the top of the organisational hierarchy. Although the heroic, charismatic, individual, and/or transformational leader may be the predominant paradigm, we are nevertheless witnessing a ‘progression of thinking’ about leadership that is presenting us with fresh and intriguing alternative leadership pictures.

Leadership is a matter of being, not doing.

So many leaders attempt to conform to a template that they think represents what a good leader should be, even though it may or may not fit with who they are. You won’t be in charge for very long if you try to lead in a way that is at odds with your principles. People who follow can instantly detect a leader’s lack of genuineness, just like a dog can detect fear in a human – a discrepancy between what they say and do. There isn’t a superhero outfit you can put on as your ‘leadership’ and become a supreme leader right away like Clark Kent. The only ‘costume’ is the one that you always wear.

People look to leaders to exhibit traits like integrity and authenticity, both of which are components of character, which are described as a person’s unique mental and moral characteristics. Leaders that lead with their character and principles are miles ahead of the pack and appear to have an unbeatable advantage. Don’t worry about what other people will think of you or how you will appear. If your character and principles serve as your compass, you will always act morally, typically in the best interests of others as well. Whether they choose to follow a leader or not depends on whether they think the person can move the group in a direction they could not or would not reach on their own. They will follow the leaders who exhibit what they perceive to be the character, even if they do not yet fully accept or comprehend the mission or the “how” of the situation. The choice is based on their willingness to “trust.”

Leaders begin by having faith in themselves, staying true to their morals and principles, and acting morally.

Self-reflection is the foundation of all leadership. How can you fully know yourself if you don’t reflect on yourself? How can you lead yourself if you don’t know yourself? How can you possibly lead others if you are unable to lead yourself? One suggestion is to write a one-page self-reflection at least once a week. This is a good way to develop purpose and meaning in life. Journaling encourages self-reflection.

We don’t learn about ourselves in isolation, but rather via relationships. Self-deception develops from isolation.

A sign of good leadership invites people to participate. As a leader, you learn about yourself through connection rather than solitude. Self-deception is a result of isolation. One way to connect with people in leadership is to identify those who share the same morals or values. Connect with people who have the fortitude to speak the truth. Look out for people who will assist you in determining whether your values are being put into practice in your life. You will be tagged an authentic leader when you find purpose and satisfaction in a value-based life.

Good leaders are people who expect more from themselves than from others. They never ask anyone to do something they are not willing to do themselves. They integrate their ‘being’ with their ‘doing’ and promote this act as their reason for becoming leaders.

What one does reflects the truth of what one says.

At ATAFOM University International, we groom authentic leaders in the learning process. As you learn with us, you grow. As you share, others grow. As a university, we might only be a minute piece of the educational puzzle but we are blazing a trail for you to make a difference in the global picture. We are the puzzle piece you need to put you in the big picture. So where does leadership begin? It begins with you and me. Join a true educational leader – ATAFOM UNIVERSITY INTERNATIONAL!

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