At any point in life, a person may ask himself or herself about what it takes to be a leader. Such a question can arise in a variety of situations, whether it is in the army during battle training or in the office when working on a new marketing project.
But what it actually takes to be a leader is what puzzles many the most since it is impossible to become one instantly. According to the famous quote by Vince Lombardi, “Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal” (as cited in BrainyQuote, n.d.).
Responsibility to the Team
A true leader that can guide others towards achieving a set goal is an individual that understands the value of hard work. His or her work is predominantly exhibited through holding responsibilities to the group and to oneself.
According to the ADP 6-22 (2012) Army Leadership document, a true leader is a courageous person that is capable of inspiring and influencing others to accomplish organizational goals. For an army leader, it is crucial to work hard to motivate the team in all directions of the command chain and to act in the interests of an organization.
There is a high level of responsibility with regards to this point since a leader usually represents the best of what a team offers, thus trying to follow the highest standard to which he or she is held. When a leader earns an award for an accomplishment, the team gains a higher status; when a leader has successfully planned and led the execution of a military operation, the entire team is praised.
Thus, being a leader means to be closely interconnected with the group that does not only help with achieving set goals but also supports the decision-making process and develops new ideas.
Responsibility to Self
Apart from holding a responsibility to the group, a good leader is also responsible for oneself. While this concept is often overlooked by many of those trying to develop leadership qualities, it is second in importance among all types of responsibility.
A good leader is the one that acknowledges the fact that personal development and well-being will be subsequently reflected in the team. According to the groundbreaking study conducted by Sy, Cote, and Saavedra (2005), the bad mood of a leader is contagious and is instantly transferred to team members, and a true leader will never want the team to experience negative emotions based on the lack of his or her self-care and self-awareness.
Attributes of a Leader
As already mentioned, becoming a true leader is a matter of hard work and dedication. There are some key attributes a person should develop in order to become a true leader; they include character, presence, and intellect. With regards to character, integrity is one of the main features since it allows a leader to do the right thing in both moral and legal terms.
Leaders that follow the existing laws and regulations manage to gain credibility and trust from team members as well as people that the organization serves (ADP 6-22, 2012). Presence is associated with the external appearance, attitudes, actions, and words exhibited by a leader.
It combines the projection of the strong and professional attitude towards organizational affairs with confidence in the capabilities of the team in accomplishing goals. While there is definitely no ‘right way’ to think, a leader’s intellect is a crucial attribute that helps him or her to evaluate the arising problems, develop solutions, and make decisions with regards to how to lead the team.
Concluding Remarks: What It Means to Be a Leader
Being a leader means accomplishing the established mission while managing to care about the team as a whole. It requires a strong focus on the goal, motivation, and preparedness to learn from mistakes since it’s impossible to become a true leader overnight.
Despite the fact that so many leaders are appointed to hold their position, it takes tremendous work to be recognized as a leader by the members of the team. Fundamentally, leadership is a concept associated with the hard but rewarding process of influencing others; when and how one is to influence the group predetermines the subsequent success of an organization and predicts whether the set goals will be achieved.
ADP 6-22. (2012). Army leadership.
BrainyQuote. (n.d.). Vince Lombardi quotes.
Sy, T., Cote, S., & Saavedra, R. (2005). The contagious leader: Impact of the leader’s mood on the mood of group members, group affective tone, and group processes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(2), 295-305.