Let me start off by saying that leadership is not a born talent. As James Humes, a presidential speechwriter says, “The art of communication is the language of leadership.” And just like any other language, it can be learned through an understanding of its most well-established principles, and of course, patient practice.
If you are ever feeling overwhelmed, anxious, unheard, foggy-minded, or any other way that makes you hesitate before you take a step, leadership is a skill that you will benefit from practicing. I’m not coming up here to make a monotone bore of a speech. I came up with this speech specifically with this class in mind to address some communication issues I observe many of you as well as myself have.
Teaching leadership usually comes in the form of understanding an outside perspective of what leaders do, but real leaders take on traits, attitudes, and mindsets that allow them to be natural. For context, I’ll overview leadership from the outside, and then elaborate on the lesson from the first-person perspective of a leader. A leader always feels confident living in the present because she/he has a clear understanding of the path she/he needs to follow as well as how to handle bumps in the road. I contend that a more complex perspective of leadership will get you to think of yourself as a leader, so you can walk and talk confidently wherever you go.
Preview of main points:
First I’ll be discussing… The definition of leadership
Then, we’ll be examining… Leadership as a two-way process
Lastly,… The benefits of leadership in everyday life
(Transition: So, to start we must ask what makes a leader a leader? Why is this a sought-after position?)
Main point one: Leaders are the member of a group that can visualize a strategy and influence others to most effectively execute, or more often delegate, plans to meet the goal.
To me, leaders are fortune tellers, visionaries. They are people who can confidently say “If you give me 5 days I’ll have a shed made for you”, and never taking 6 to finish. As you may remember from the book, Leadership is difficult to define formally. It comes in many different forms, but there are a few consistencies throughout all leaders. My favorite is that leaders are honest movers who do what they say they are going to do.
To make this presentation interesting I had to rack my brain, and with things like “statistics, quotes, stories, etc.” even a modern search engine is no help. These things just aren’t interesting without first creating context.
Getting the audience to engage ties in perfectly with our chapter. Engagement is not about the information, It’s about leadership. It’s about showing that you have something to say and demanding the room’s attention, nicely or otherwise.
The previously mentioned presentation tools view leadership from an outside perspective. To learn how to communicate you can’t just read off a page, you have to engage and interact. Viewing leadership as another science where a + b = c is a mistake. The very nature of leadership demands creativity and adaptability. There is no equation to solve a problem in leadership with an accurately predicted outcome. When people do presentations in public schools, where the goal of the project is to learn how to present and inform to an engaging audience, you often find students sleeping, texting, or chatting with their neighbor while you are supposed to be demanding the floor.
An audience can smell a half-baked idea the second you step up in front of them. Unless you are presenting something, you have truly emotionally invested in, you will come off as inauthentic and unprepared, even if you are overprepared.
(Transition: Leadership requires a constant desire to learn and adapt to new situations as they arise)
Main point two: Leadership as a two-way process
Leaders have to take on certain qualities of their character to make sure they can be influential. There are many elements to this and some are vaguely outlined in the book. These elements, such as status, authority, etc. are all traits that leaders will take on as a result of being good leaders but just because a person has those traits, doesn’t necessarily mean they are a leader. The quality most associated with good leadership is credibility. From a psychological perspective, this is the ethos that Aristotle so famously talks about.
According to Centreforleadership.com, a good and honest leader under the Aristotle ethos template will be able to answer the following questions: “What values underpin your proposal? What do you stand for? What is the moral basis for action? What principles guide your direction? What social norm operates in this context? What is the right thing to do? What do you believe in? What is your cause?” A good leader needs to be trustworthy. In a friendship, there is a one to one bond of responsibility, but in leadership, the person following is always giving up a lot more because there is a blind trust where each follower is splitting the leader’s time between them. Especially in big groups, the leader gets all the time where you are talking about fulfilling her/his ideas but doesn’t likely have a responsibility to consider your ideas with equal measure. He only has the inherent responsibility to consider your ideas to the extent that you are convinced to stay a functioning part of the group. Doing what your told without getting answers is a recipe for manipulation. So, people often consider choosing leaders with a grain of salt. No one wants to be tricked.
Leaders have to learn from followers otherwise they will lose the lead. Followers are a single entity of malleable support and if a leader can’t sustain a common cause with her/his followers, that person is likely not to be a leader for long.
(transition: Leaders who learn stay leaders. Leaders who stay down when kicked there have to let go of the past or they will never be leaders again)
Main point three: How to be a leader and the benefits of leadership in everyday life
If you aren’t presenting today and you’re still stressing out, push yourself into your “discomfort” zone today. Think quickly and act quickly on your thoughts. The things you know you need to do first will always come to mind first, but they often fade if we allow ourselves to second guess. Then we find ourselves unorganized and overwhelmed. If you start doing it, everything will get done.
Every step you take with confidence, you take because you can make a confident assumption of where you’ll be and how the situations you run into will play out. Yet, often people still find themselves walking cautiously and consequently anxiously into regular everyday scenarios. It is like being in a constant state of fight or flight. You aren’t sure of yourself because you can’t even convince yourself to get to work on anything, let alone someone else.
Our instincts in social situations can get defensive when we forget to use the God-given gift that as far as we know only humans have. That is, the ability to live with one foot in the future, the ability to recognize patterns and mimic consistent ones, the ability to feel fully prepared for any situation you might run into and expect a particular outcome. When we suppress things, they swell. It makes us live in a constant state of defense where we think things could come crashing down at any moment and always feel behind. Don’t be afraid of the future. It will come eventually anyway. Embrace it now for a clear mind later. We can see our own futures when we try.
(It is all a matter of forming a direction towards a goal)
The only way to become a leader is to learn to take on traits. It is not as simple as knowing what to do. You also have to know how to do it.
Leadership is something you must learn through seeing and doing.
You will be a leader once you learn to lead yourself. Don’t cry, never give up, and face problems head-on.
(Now Sam is going to elaborate and bring some key terms into the works).
Gallup, Inc. “Strengths-Based Cultures Are Vital to the Future of Work.” Gallup.com, 13 Feb. 2018, news.gallup.com/opinion/gallup/226886/strengths-based-cultures-vital-future- work.aspxg_source=link_NEWSV9&g_medium=TOPIC&g_campaign=item_&g_conte nt=StrengthsBased%2520Cultures%2520Are%2520Vital%2520to%2520the%2520Future%2520of%2520Work.
Rothwell, Dan. In Mixed Company: Small Group Communication. Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010.