How to be a good leader? - valuable tips
What makes some people able to catch crowds behind them, convince them to their vision, infect them with faith in the set goals, and the other - despite their sincere intentions - never succeeds? How is it that some of the people no one has heard of become great leaders and go down in history? There is no single answer to these questions. However, as the source of the success of these people, certain character, behavior and appearance traits that inspire confidence in the leader and make others want to follow him can certainly be identified. It is important that all these aspects work together to create a coherent image. In the next part of the series How to be a good leader? we will take a closer look at the image of a leader - we will consider what influences the image of a leader, how much depends on him, what attributes should be used in his shaping. We invite you to read!
Who is a modern leader?
It is worth starting your reflection on the image of a leader with a little exercise. Close your eyes and think for a moment about the first modern leader you can think of. Think about what he looks like, what he says and how, what characterizes him?
Various leaders have probably been extracted from the layers of memory - those about whom we have recently read loudly (such as Vladimir Putin), about whom we have recently read, or those who made a special impression on us (such as Winston Churchill). For some, such a stereotypical leader may be associated with politics (such as Angela Merkel, Lech Wałęsa), for others rather with religion (such as John Paul II, Dalai Lama XIV) or broadly understood economy (Steve Jobs). The association may also go towards someone less known (e.g. someone from the family or own boss) or rather towards a person who holds a leadership position.
As you can see, there can be many associations, but all of the above examples have one thing in common - these people are considered leaders for various reasons. So who is a contemporary leader? Considering the above-mentioned associations, it can be said that she is a firm, courageous person, strongly defending her views, believing in her goals, inspiring respect, and being a great authority for some people. All the leaders outlined above have a certain style that sets them apart from other citizens. This style resulted from or results from their way of speaking and moving, as well as from the specificity of their position (which often affects many aspects of functioning, e.g. clothing). Undoubtedly, however, it can be assumed that each of them is a good example of the image of a leader. Exactly - what exactly is this image and in the case of leaders, can we even speak of one universal model of it? Will we learn how to be a good leader by creating a single pattern of behavior?
A person's image consists of several factors - how to be a good leader?
The dictionary of the Polish language indicates that the word "image" can be used in two senses. First, as someone's likeness in a drawing, picture, photo, etc., or, second, as the way in which the person or thing is perceived and represented. Of course, the image in the approach discussed in this article applies to the second of the cited ways of understanding the word.
We have a chance to make a first impression only once, while the image is shaped over time by taking specific actions, proclaiming our own views, and appropriate behavior. Why is it so important? Because it affects the functioning of the individual in the environment. The image, i.e. the way it is perceived, influences the formation of likes and dislikes, and thus the success of the goals set.
Transferring the above definition to considerations about leadership, it can be said that the image is the way in which a given person is perceived and perceived by their surroundings. In order to be able to talk about the image of a leader, it is necessary to consider what influences the perception of others? How can we judge whether a given person represents the attitude of the leader?
There are four main areas that affect how a person is perceived. Firstly and - the most obvious - it is the appearance, secondly - the manner of behavior (including expression), thirdly - the entirety of knowledge, views and values, and fourthly - attitude.
How to be a good leader - appearance
The first component of the image - appearance - is especially important for the first impression. It has an incredibly strong influence on how a given person will be perceived, which is why many politicians, entering the political scene, change the way they dress and hairdos, often involving a large group of stylists and PR specialists. This is an effective trick, because as research shows, we collect as much as 80 percent through the visual canal. information, especially if we come into contact with a given object (person) for the first time.
When speaking of "appearance", one should bear in mind not only the physical characteristics of a person (i.e. height, body build, hair color, etc.) or the way they dress, but also the symbols they have (such as a car, jewelry, etc.) . Of course, the way of perceiving certain "treatments" related to this aspect of image building depends largely on the culture, state system, or the organization itself. For example, in the army, the leader can be recognized by the number of stars and bars on the epaulets - two bars and three stars on a shoulder pad always mean one thing for a soldier - their carrier is a colonel. For a civilian, this symbol will be unrecognizable and it will be easy for him to confuse a lieutenant with a colonel.
The fact that physicality itself is not that important in shaping the image of a leader is evidenced by the fact that both history and the present day have known cases of leaders who were not among the highest, but when thinking about them, many people attribute them to height over 190 cm. An example may be Marshal Józef Piłsudski - he was not among the lowest, but the information that he was not close to two meters, but (only?) 175 cm tall may be shocking for many people. You can also cite the example of Napoleon Bonaparte, who conquered the world, having - according to various estimates - about 168 cm (at that time he was the leader of rather average height). Also in the Second World War, several low leaders participated - Josif Vissarionovich Dzugashvili, i.e. Joseph Stalin, was 164 cm, Adolf Hitler - 165 cm, Winston Churchill - 173 cm.
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How to be a good leader? - behaviour
The second factor influencing the image is the person's behavior. Just as appearance influences the first impression, the behavior of a person can be attributed to a "second" impression. The way someone will be perceived by others is influenced by their way of moving, gestures, manners, or the way they express themselves, e.g. intonation, voice timbre, choice of words. This aspect of image shaping is extremely important in relation to leaders.
The vast majority of the leaders, including those mentioned at the beginning of the article, were characterized by great oratorical skills. Due to the fact that leadership is mainly about "kidnapping" people behind you, it is necessary to have the gift of persuasion, that is, to formulate messages in such a way that others will believe and feel what the leader feels. Without properly communicating your vision and mission, it is impossible to win the support of the crowds.
The authors of one of the first studies on leadership - Lippitt and White - emphasized that in striving for leadership success, it is not who the leader is, but how he behaves. On this basis, different types of leadership were distinguished, that is, exactly how a leader can act in order to be considered a leader. The aforementioned Lippitt and White spoke of a democratic and autocratic style, while in other studies a people-oriented style and a task-oriented style stand out. Of course, certain leadership styles work more or less across cultures and organizations.
However, later research has shown that how a person behaves is largely due to their character traits. Consistency of behavior with personality, values and goals is also important for the perception of a leader by others. Therefore, it is now emphasized that some leadership behaviors can be learned, but still some conditions sucked out of breast milk are mentioned. So how should a contemporary leader behave in an organization? According to what we wrote in earlier parts of the cycle, the leader should care for his subordinates - motivate them, involve them in the decision-making process, talk to them, share their ideas, but also listen carefully to what they have to say. The leader should also be firm, have great interpersonal skills to be able to clearly and clearly explain his goals.
How to be a good leader? - knowledge, views and values
The third aspect, extremely important in creating an image, is the body of knowledge, views and values. All this is reflected in the mission and vision that the leader wants to pursue. Great leaders were visionaries - they had a clearly defined goal based on values that were important to them. The basis of the vision is precisely the professed values, that is, everything that is guided by his daily conduct, what he believes in. They are the building blocks of all activities of leaders and translate into their views.
A characteristic feature of all the leaders (mentioned at the beginning of the article and not only) was their firmness and faith in their values and views. More than once, they managed to be successful precisely because all their activities were based on very strong foundations. It is difficult to imagine that John Paul II would win over such crowds of people, including young people, if his actions and words did not result from his worldview. Adolf Hitler also firmly believed in what he preached - thanks to this he was able to carry the crowds with him and cause a great storm around the world.
Knowledge is also an important aspect influencing the image of a leader. An effective leader should have specialist knowledge of the issues they are dealing with. Needless to say, it is hardly necessary to convince anyone that without the knowledge of many issues, historical and modern leaders would not have been so successful. The leader should be an expert in a given field.Thanks to this, he is able to effectively plan and look to the future, as well as evokes respect from those around him. It is important that the leader does not try to be a specialist in every field - as we wrote in the second part of the cycle - being a super leader will certainly not positively influence the image of the leader.
How to be a good leader? Train your posture!
The last aspect that should be mentioned in the context of the leader's image is his attitude - that is, the presented attitude towards people, events, objects, etc. resulting from the possessed personality traits, temperament and upbringing. So what distinguishes a leader from other people in terms of the presented attitude?
First of all, he is a person with the so-called strong character - characterized by self-confidence, a positive attitude and the ability to infect others with it. Its great advantages are honesty, broadly understood integrity, willingness to learn, self-discipline, perseverance and a kind of intuition.
A leader likes to act, to go in a certain direction and can make others follow with him. Strongly developed social competences allow him to do so - he is open, communicative, inspiring, empathetic, has a sense of the situation. This means that a good leader is not only able to influence the people he leads, but also, and maybe even - above all - easily makes contact with them and builds a positive relationship. He believes in them and in them, thanks to which he can use the potential of his subordinates.
At this point, it is worth returning to the first part of our series, dealing with the topic of how to be a good leader. All this affects the general attitude of the leader, and thus also how he is perceived by the environment.
Summing up the considerations on the image of a leader, it is worth emphasizing that this aspect plays a very important role in leading others. It is thanks to the fact that people perceive a specific individual as having the attributes of a leader that he can pursue his own goals and assumptions. Therefore, any aspiring leader should focus their attention on creating the right image, bearing in mind what influences how others perceive us.
Great leaders do not have to be great bodies, but their actions based on coherent values and views. People judge their leaders precisely by their actions, i.e. decisions made and behaviors presented. The consistency of actions and declarations, as well as actions, views and values is also important. What helps create the image of a good leader is the trust of subordinates. If they do not believe in the sincere intentions of their leader, they are unlikely to follow him.