Becoming a Better Leader
“You can’t polish a sneaker – an ugly sneaker is an ugly sneaker. ” When applied to a leader, some people might think that a good leader is born. However, history has shown that leaders are not exactly born. While observers are inclined to believe that every individual has innate capabilities of becoming a leader, not everybody is able to develop them.
Biographies of great leaders show that their willingness and creativity in addressing the demands of their environment helped develop their capabilities.
A classic example was Gandhi of India who did nothing grand but was able to move millions of his countrymen to action. By simply staying at home and using his loom to weave his clothing materials, he was able to show that it was possible for India to develop its own industry and become independent of Great Britain (Blagg and Young, 2001).
A good leader should not only learn to say no and “I don’t know. ” He or she should have the courage to tell people the hard realities no matter how adverse, but should be able to help them cope with such realities.
As John Kotter once said, “Great leadership does not mean running away from reality…Sometimes the hard truths might just demoralize the company, but at other times sharing difficulties can inspire people to take action that will make the situation better” (Blagg and Young, 2001).
Leadership, therefore, involves meeting issues head-on and calling a spade a spade. It is true that a good leader attracts criticisms. He who is never criticized is not doing anything substantial or creative.
Who was it who said that “One can’t please everybody? ” Since harsh criticisms come from people who were not pleased or were threatened by one’s actions, surely others must have been satisfied or gratified. It might be a cliche but it is true that a coin has two sides.
In like manner, an expert at the Harvard Business School was once quoted as saying that “There are lots of people who look and act like managers, who have excellent managerial skills, and who don’t make a lot of noise.
Nobody is writing cover stories about them” (Joseph Badaracco as cited in Blagg and Young, 2001). An individual who is never censured, reproached, or appreciated, even if he or she is a manager is not a leader.
He is somebody who is not exceptional – someone who is simply mediocre. Reference Blagg, D. & Young, S. (2001). What Makes A Good Leader. Harvard Business School Bulleting. Retrieved February 17, 2008 from http://www. alumni. hbs. edu/bulletin/2001/february/leader. html