What does it take to become a good leader?

Any time you are placed in an environment that is new and unfamiliar to you, challenges are bound to arise. As such, I expect there to be cultural norms in India that may be a challenge to learning about leadership. For instance, communication may be a barrier at some points over the duration of our stay here in India. Although the English language is very widely spoken across India, varying accent and colloquialisms across cultures may prove to be a challenger for learning leadership, a process which relies so heavily on communication. Keeping this in mind, it is important that everyone ask to clarify things that may not immediately be understood. Otherwise, miscommunication can lead to an air of discontinuity working the group and has the potential to impede the learning process.

Some believe that true leaders are born the way that they are– naturally charismatic, influential and inspiring individuals who are destined to make a mark. But while certain people may naturally be predisposed to leadership (just as some are predisposed to athleticism or musical ability) I believe it is absolutely possible and probably even more common to cultivate the characteristics and skills necessary to be a competent leader over the course of one’s lifetime.

Becoming a great leader is truly a lifetime pursuit. As with all forms of personal and professional development, there will always be new skills no learn, new ways to strengthen your character and new opportunities to put your leadership into practice.

I believe the most difficult aspect of becoming a good leader is that leadership as a practice is in no way formulaic– that is, there is no single, guaranteed way of doing it successfully. It is simply not possible for someone to sit you down and “teach” you what being an effective leader is all about. In other words, there are far too many variables that dictate what it takes to be a skilled leader in a given circumstance for there to be one all-encompassing praxis for good leadership.

This in turn is probably the greatest obstacle that makes being a good leader so incredibly challenging. Many leaders will not make the effort to develop their own personal leadership style in an authentic way. Instead, they may find themselves trying to adopt a leadership methodology of a leader they admire or someone who has a history of what is perceived as achieving positive results. When those in leadership positions do this, they fail to recognize their own unique strengths as well as the needs of their group members, which rarely results in favorable outcomes. In order to be a good leader, it is important to be aware of your own skills as well as the skills of those in your group. Although this is difficult to achieve, it is essential.