When we hear about a “leader” the image or depiction that runsthrough mind is that of a person leading the way and people following him/her. Leaders are commonly known as people who have an inspiring vision and the ability to map out directions to their people in order to achieve it. Whilespeaking about a leader at least one person would comment that “He/She is a born leader”. We wonder, is it really so, that to be a leader you have to born with the ability? In other words, can the qualities required to become an accomplished leader be developed, can any person be taught how to be a leader?

“Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly, that they come to see it in themselves” – Stephen R. Covey

Being a leader is an individual choice rather than a position. If someoneaspires to be a leader irrespective of their position or situation they will become one. And yes, leadership skills can be developed, as found through innumerable studies.The first step towards being a leader is a paradigm shift in thinking – the person has to develop a leadership mindset and think from the team’s perspective than individual’s.Moving from a mindset which says “I am responsible for my results” the person should replace it with “I am responsible for delivering the results through other people”. The people with a leadership mindset are most likely to become successful leadersthrough this shift in thinking as it will put them in the leader’s shoes eventually honing their ability to act & think like a leader.

The other practice which will help in developing leadershipis by increasing the individual engagement by conducting regular meetings with their team members in person.This will immensely help to obtaina deeper understanding of the teammembers issues and provide an opportunity to guide them whilst resolving these. A key skill in developing leadership ability, one must effectively delegate, without being prescriptive i.e. supervise but don’t control. Delegation of tasks should be done in a way that the team members obtain a clear picture of why the task has to be done. Tell them the ‘why’ and let them determine the ‘how’. Thiswill help team members becoming more engaged as well as accountable and hence more likely to take ownership to deliver better results.

As a leader, it is essential to give and seek feedback – this will provide a positive enforcement and build communication transparencybetween the leader and his/her team members. Regularity of formal feedback discussions benefits tremendously as it would not just aid in continuous improvement but also help in developing trust-based relationships amongst themselves. For a leader getting feedback from team members is important as it would make them aware of their leadership style and help them improve it.

As a leader one should be aware that change is inevitable in any organization and hence equip their team by engaging them and finding ways to work through the hindrances which may come across due to the change. Involved support extended to the team members through the change will result in higher collaboration and there will be successful implementation of the desired change without any impediment.

Finally, one of the core essentials of being an effective leader is to demonstrate the ability to manage yourtime and energy. A leader should know how to organize their time and prioritize their commitments. This is non-negotiable as this ability will help the leader to thrive and be a role model to their team members.

Leadership is not a one-time attainment – rather a continuously tested & challenged journey across situations changing constantly. Every established leader must be forever eager to learn and improve their leadership mettle, as rightly said –

“Leadership is not something that you learn once and for all. It is ever-evolving pattern of skills, talents, and ideas that grow and change as you do” – Sheila Murray Bethal