Earlier this year I wrote about leadership, what it is and what it is not. There are many qualities that leaders share. Who do you consider a leader? Why? What it is about the person that makes you think of them as a leader? Is it something they do? Or, maybe something they don’t? Is it how they talk? Or is it that they are able to influence others?
An article by Travis Bradberry on Entrepreneur.com offered the following definition of Leadership: Leadership is a process of social influence which maximizes the efforts of others toward the achievement of a greater good. Hmmmm? This makes sense but it is not all that straightforward. Merriamwebster.com does not offer a definition much better, defining leadership as the capacity to lead. The tough part of defining a leader or leadership is that we all might have different views of who is a leader, the qualities of leaders, and or what it is that leaders do to successfully lead. So, the definition and hence, even our ideas about leadership, can be fuzzy.
But, when I think of the qualities of people I consider to be leaders, I think of:
Today, let’s look at how a leader can be inspirational. While working at my first job out of college, my head nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where I worked would arrive at 5am. At first, I thought this was crazy and unnecessary! After all, she was the “Head Nurse!” She had earned the right to work day shift, come in at 6:30 (not 5 a.m.) and start her day. But, not too long into my job (this was more than 30 years ago), I realized that she was very smart in arriving at 5 a.m.. She would don scrubs, enter the unit and work right along side all of us (a mix of new nurses and seasoned ones) who were finishing up our night shifts. Ah, I got it! She was able to learn who we were by being accessible, as well as working with us during busy times, codes, and even when it was slow. In the unlikely case she was in her office, which had a glass window, instead of on the unit with us, we knew she was there. You might say this is accessibility not inspiration. But, while she was accessible, no doubt, she has always stayed in the forefront of my mind as being a great leader. She never made a big deal about being there early and in doing so she worked with all three shifts of her nurses in the unit. Of course, she was there the entire day shift – but some of that time was probably taken up with meetings. And, for evening shift which started at 3pm, she was present until 5pm, or there about. So, she worked a 60 hour week and knew all of her nurses (in a huge 45 bed intensive care unit). I’d say she was a very inspirational nursing leader. Inspirational leaders are not easily forgotten.
An inspirational leader makes you want to rise to the occasion, do your best, make things better for the team (or unit, or community, or business). An inspirational leader shows what he/she wants by example, not by directives or yelling, playing games, or stomping of feet. An inspirational leader makes us want what is not good for one’s self but also for others. Who do you know that is an inspirational leader? If I had to name a person who is more famous than my former head nurse and who is also an inspirational leader, it would be the Dalai Lama.
Over the next few months, my blog will explore some more of the leadership qualities listed above. We desperately need exceptional leaders today more than ever as we face the challenges of climate change, the need for educational reform, and the advancement of more and more technology. Great leaders can inspire us all to do more and be more for the good of the world around us.
I hope you stop back to explore leadership with me and comment on what qualities you think a great leader possesses.