Being a leader is different from being a manager and Jack Welch is right when he says that leaders are born and then develop by learning. IQ and energy we are born with. What we call charm and charisma is actually energy. And having that kind of energy is a crucial aspect of a natural leader that people follow without even realizing it. So much so that natural leaders, unlike managers, don’t even need to ask people to do something, merely suggest and people follow.
Charming people actually make others feel satisfied with themselves. Most women fell in love with JFK and the majority of men did anything they could to make him happy. And that’s exactly what happens with natural leaders.
How do you change your energy?
Leadership also comes from education and training but the “cherry on the ice cream” that, for instance, JFK had can not be learnt. Another word for it is star quality, but you are either born with that kind of energy or you are not. And without it leadership is much more difficult.
A good example is the difference between Nelson Mandela and his successor Thabo Mbeki. The latter is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met, if not the most intelligent. But Nelson Mandela, like, for instance, Bill Clinton and JFK, filled up the room. Mbeki does not and hence failed to make the amazing connection with the South African people, and people around the world for that matter, that Mandela has.
Leaders make others feel good about themselves
Like all effective leaders, Mandela made others feel good about themselves as well as the work they were doing. He had a vision of what he wanted to achieve and could communicate it to others in ways that made them want to be part of it.
Passion is crucial to leadership
Back in school we all had teachers that were natural leaders and passionate about what they were doing. Even without being told what to do, we loved what we were doing, learnt a lot from them and got high grades. Don’t need to mention all the terrible teachers we had that made us fall asleep and loose interest in the subject. And they were all educated and trained to teach.
Emotional intelligence makes a difference
In many companies today people who are not born leaders are in charge and it is definitely having a negative impact on their results. Managers who are also leaders use their influence to coach and mentor others to make the most of their potential. They are more likely to be strategic and integrated planners, thus spending less time putting out fires and more time streamlining and planning ahead. In general, employees are more attracted to managers with excellent leadership skills as they are more emotionally intelligent.
Why are natural leaders not better utilized?
Personally I can not understand why educated natural leaders are not better utilized in business since they would really have a tremendously positive impact on results. In some companies top management unfortunately feels threatened by natural leaders who are hence not allowed to lead. Can’t help wondering what shareholders would have to say about that if they knew? Another reason is that the first step in evaluating candidates usually is looking at their CV/resume. And there is no way of judging if a person is a natural leader or not just by looking at their CV. So by the time top management meets the candidates for a C-level position there often isn’t a natural leader amongst them.
Imagine the massive positive impact more educated leaders to whom leadership comes natural would have on companies world-wide. Results would increase significantly while at the same time making employees happier to work.
Let’s hope we will see more educated people with leadership qualities in key positions. Why this amazing resource is overlooked I can not comprehend. It is a fantastic asset that should be utilized to its full potential. Eisenhower put it very well when he said “you do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership”. And in today’s world we really should be civilized enough to move beyond that.
Photo: Kheel Center + Flickr Pan African News Wire File Photos