By Doha Kabalan- Course designer on Eduspark & Independent Teacher Trainer.
For as long as we can go back, effective leadership has been key to crucial achievements in time. Across history, successful leaders have managed to win battles, make discoveries, fulfil dreams, lead revolutions, or overthrow regimes. Yet to be able to bring on drastic change and make an impact, you have to lead with a mosaic leadership.
What is Leadership?
Leadership is like a see-through gem, that if held against the light, would unravel a whole, embracing several interwoven elements. This makes it even harder to define as a term, despite the abundance of resources and references. The closer you look, the clearer you see the interlocked elements that get together to serve the purpose. Just like an alloy being created and made stronger and more resilient than any of its individual pieces, leadership is the harmonious function of its different parts. To name a few… communication skills, the ability to inspire and motivate, empathy, emotional intelligence, adaptability, problem-solving skills, a growth mindset, and a clear vision, are utilized and regrouped in different order of importance according to the leader’s stance. The co-usage, value, and dominance of each part is also determined by the leader’s perspective. These, coupled with knowledge and experience, govern the leadership approaches that leaders use, and the cultures they create.
Leadership is not One-Size-Fits-All!
If you are a novice leader who is trying to put into effective usage your knowledge about leadership, gained through research, attending training programs, or observing leaders in action and developing insights, or if you are a proficient leader simply adding your layer of experience to all the above, you’ll understand there isn’t one right approach all the time. Leadership is not a linear route where you can experiment with a single approach first, then switch to another if it proves unworkable. Your effective leadership approach is defined according to how skilfully you mix and match features from each approach, making the most of its strengths and avoiding the pitfalls of its weaknesses.
As a powerful leader, your competence is shown as you creatively develop your influence while you construct your approach from different elements at play. So, yes you need “the book” to be knowledge base of what works, how that can be implemented, and what are the consequences, but you don’t need to go “by the book” and implement a single approach solely every time. Be responsive to the community you have, get creative, and make up your approach to be as inclusive as possible to everyone you guide through.
Leadership is a People Thing!
Whether you are leading a company, school, or any organization, you will notice that it’s reflective of the community you live in; not everyone is the same and they all have different backgrounds and experiences. You as a leader, and the community you lead have a co-existential relationship. It’s a lot about you, but also about them, and neither can exist without the other. When dealing with people, the social aspect takes over. It’s unpredictable! Sometimes, the best emotional intelligence training, or the highest degree, won’t prepare you for the intensity of the feelings of an employee having a very sensational public breakdown amidst a staff meeting!! Of course, knowledge and experience help, but what helps more is knowing your people!
It also helps to know the culture you have built your people. People are as individual as they can get! In one place, you might be dealing with employees who are self-motivated and self-driven to accomplish and challenge themselves. This requires a certain approach from you to keep moving them forward and utilize their enthusiasm in the correct way. In the same place, you might have one of the most laid-back, insecure, and incompetent employees whom you keep showering with a positive embrace in the hope of helping them grow – yet they still remain ungrateful. How you juggle your approach and how you differentiate to make sure the former isn’t discouraged, and the latter is held accountable is tricky and not mentioned in any footnote of the books you read. That’s why your approach should depend on the situation, and the people involved!
The Mosaic Leadership
The good thing about leadership is that like everything else it gets sharpened through experience. With time, you’ll learn more about how to communicate effectively, make difficult decisions, and demonstrate your integrity and accountability. You’ll learn how to piece together intricate patterns from different leadership styles and approaches to create a sustainable, durable, unique piece of work. Leadership teaches you a lot about yourself and your true colour, as you try to learn about others and connect with them. It’s easier said than done, but as Franklin D. Roosevelt once said “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”! Sometimes nothing seems to work, steep will be your learning curve. So, experiment, network, learn, mix and match, be open to change, and don’t limit yourself to one plan. Leadership is a mosaic that will always enrich you with multiple perspectives in easy and tough times alike!