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Leadership is a Personality!

"The challenge is finding a person who can lead EVERYONE..."

Is a leader born or is a leader made? Yes, …and Yes! This is a question I often get, but let’s be clear, there has not been a “great leader” genetic code identified to date. The reality is ANYONE is a good leader for SOMEONE. The challenge, however, is finding a person who can lead EVERYONE. Values and cultural beliefs are diverse, experiences are varied, all of which create assorted personalities with different perspectives, all of which are accurate in the eye of the beholder.

The distinguishing competence of an effective leader is his/her ability to gain followers; accomplished through influence and inspiration. An effective leader has aptitude in drawing out creativities, instilling trust, creating confidence, and managing individuals to the fullest extent possible. Let’s face it, long gone are the conventional tactics of a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude – our professional environment simply will not tolerate that degree of authority. Our workforce demands individuality, demonstrated through flexibility, personal promotion, engagement, feeling cared for, and a relationship.

As mentioned, a leader’s primary role is to influence, but no one can essentially influence another person if they cannot effectively communicate with them. The term “effectively” recognizes both the ability to speak and to listen at a level appreciated by the receiver. If a leader is intolerant, ambiguous, inflexible, and arguably more importantly, unable to effectively listen, they will not be received by their followers. Today’s organizational climate simply will not tolerate positional power. Leadership must come from a place of character, passion, tolerance, relationship…it must come from a place of personality.

To demonstrate effective communication, I use an analogy of a candy jar with 100 pieces of 4 different types of candy. In my jar, 60 of those pieces will be my favorite candy. I will add 20 pieces of my next favorite candy, 15 pieces of my 3rd favorite, then only 5 pieces of my least favorite. If I simply grab out of their candy jar something to give you, the greatest probability is that I will grab my favorite green candy, because it’s what I have the most of. But what if that is the recipient's least favorite? The receiver will not want to take it! To effectively have the receiver take what I am offering, I first must know what the follower likes, then I must be every intentional (and tolerant) to find that in my jar to give them. A person will not take from you something they do not want!

The distinguishing competence of an effective leader is his/her ability to gain followers; accomplished through influence and inspiration. An effective leader has aptitude in drawing out creativities, instilling trust, creating confidence, and managing individuals to the fullest extent possible. Let’s face it, long gone are the conventional tactics of a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude – our professional environment simply will not tolerate that degree of authority. Our workforce demands individuality, is the recipient's least favorite? The receiver will not want to take it! To effectively have the receiver take what I am offering, I first must know what the follower likes, then I must be every intentional (and tolerant) to find that in my jar to give them. A person will not take from you something they do not want!

The word personality derives from the Latin word persona and is defined as the social, motivational, experimental, and emotional need individuals draw upon in varied situations. Personality refers to the long-standing traits and patterns which propel a person to think, believe, and behave in a specific way. Personality is what makes a person unique and is considered long-term, constant, and not easily altered. THIS is the paradox of leadership! Understanding yourself and helping your team members understand how their personality challenges their co-workers, teaching them how to tolerate the unique differences each person brings, and ultimately appreciating them for it will help to ensure communication remains open and influence continues to exist.

A person’s personality is demonstrated in everything they do, including how they communicate; whether you like it or not, it is innate. As a leader, you are exposed to a variety of personalities, and you will certainly demonstrate yours to your followers. As mentioned, you have no influence if the other person does not receive what you are trying to communicate with them. The good news is that you have the ability to effectively communicate with everyone when you commit the intention to do so.

Anyone’s personality CAN lead someone, but you can only lead EVERYONE if your personality is one that is accepting of others and can demonstrate tolerance of different personality characteristics. Perception is reality…We have to be intentional in our communication, give people what they will want to take from us, and be tolerant of another’s view; it’s not personal – it’s just personality!


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