nt/uploads/2012/05/86503625-300×200.jpg” alt=”Leadership: Art or Science?” width=”300″ height=”200″ />From the Beginning
Leadership dates back before the onslaught of books, articles and seminars that line bookstore shelves. In fact, leadership goes all the way back to tribal times, when one leader instructed a group of people to take or not take action. We have our own contemporary version of those same leaders: entrepreneurs, national leaders, physicians, law enforcement and CEOs. While leadership isn’t “rocket science,” there are some stark differences that can help business managers become more effective in their role.
Which Is It? Is Leadership Art or Science? Or Both?
The argument for leadership as both an art and a science is a strong one. Although there are certain quantifiable skills that make for a good leader – skills that can be measured and calculated – there are also qualities that are simply harder to define. In fact, it may be a combination of personality and skills that determine whether a leader rises to the forefront of an organization. Either way, arguments for leadership as a science and an art abound:
- A Science Lesson: The quantifiable part of leadership can be gauged by creating measurable goals that can be tracked on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis, giving real data as to whether strategies are working. These metrics create a firm base with which to measure progress.
- An Art Lesson: Many leaders are dedicated to directing their teams, but do they also know how to listen? Listening is the art of exceptional leadership. Leaders who listen to their team members open the door to true team vision, one developed by taking the best ideas that everyone can bring, rather than the attitude of “Here is the vision, now go execute it.”
Keep it Simple (Silly)
Whether leadership is an art or a science, it is not nearly as complicated as many people make it out to be. There are simple steps that leaders can focus on to develop their team into a prime organizational model. By encouraging each team member to leverage his or her talent, each team becomes a unique composite of what everyone does best. An analogy that best exemplifies the active leveraging of talent is in a choral environment where you must give your voice to the song while listening and complementing the other talents around you to produce the best arrangement. Creating meaning and purpose is another goal that top leaders achieve effectively. When team members see that their uniqueness is being taken into consideration and understand that their role is critical to success, they develop trust in the leader and a desire to work together. Skilled leaders work to keep their focus on keeping their team engaged and reading from the same song sheet.
Don’t be Daft
When leaders embrace complication instead of the basics, they tend to miss the point. Good leaders tend to share a few things in common:
- Good leaders work harder than their team. They work on their own personal and professional development on a daily basis and have a plan for their life – a plan that encourages others to act because of their positive example.
- Good leaders know their industry and have confidence in what they do and how they do it.
- Good leaders are ultimately accountable for what they do and have high integrity.
Just Do It!
So what’s the best way to start being a leader? Just do it and keep it simple. Build trust by giving team members information that is critical to their tasks. Excellent leaders are consistent and define clear roles for their teams, eliminating confusion and dealing with any questions as soon as they arise. Finally, leaders listen well to the merits of each idea without tarnishing the idea by worrying about who offered it in the first place.