Mastering Leadership: How to Unleash Your Leader Within

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What is a leader? Is it just a mere position given to those able to lead the team to triumph? Truly, leadership is a mindset. Leadership is something that motivates, inspires, and empowers one another. It is about doing good and guiding others to accomplish their goals. Leadership goes beyond hierarchy. So, how can one unleash their inner leader?

It is important to keep in mind the following:

Honest Communication

In maintaining a relationship, communication is needed so that both parties (or more) can voice out each other’s opinions as well as build trust. But it is also important to take into account that all humans are different people. This means in communicating and interacting it is important to read what the other person is like to effectively suit their situation and team members.

It is crucial to be genuine above else when communicating. Leaders can establish a foundation of trust among team members, enabling clear understanding of goals and expectations, facilitating open dialogue about challenges and solutions, and encouraging active engagement and collaboration. Ultimately, honest communication lays the foundation for strong relationships, good teamwork, and successful outcomes.

I have once witnessed my friend and her team struggle on an assignment given to them by our teacher. Each member was assigned with different tasks to do to complete the whole test for the team. The lack of cooperation and communication from one of the team members to comprehend on what needed to be done to complete the task, had caused the delay in submitting the task for the team, thus creating an uncomfortable situation for the other team members. This gap could be prevented earlier if each of the member team practices the so-called ‘the honest communication.

Connect with Others

Leading a group of people requires a mutual sense of trust and understanding between the leader and members. To achieve this, the leader must learn how to connect. Focus on getting to know the team members. Such as getting to know their personalities, interests, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, and many more. Being able to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and allowing them to take responsibility may boost the members confidence as well as their performance.

Let me give you an illustration on this situation. In my fair share of group projects, when I was younger I was not familiar with most of my classmates as I was a new student. As a newbie in the class, I was struggling to be fitted in as I sensed that there was still a lack of understanding and trust as we don’t know each other quite well. I find it quite hard to reach out to them and hand out tasks. And my younger self decided that I can do their part of the task. Ultimately, that was not a good call–it was unfair and tiring. Due to that, when presentation day came, the only person who was able to actually explain about the topic was me while the others just stood there awkwardly.

For some people, sometimes feeling insecure in new surroundings, might be a stumbling block in your effort to immediately connect with others. But this is okay as different people will require different time to
adjust and build connection and trust with others. It’s okay also to learn from your mistakes to build a stronger character. Life itself is a process of learning!

Maintaining a Positive Attitude

The way you handle negative situations says a lot about your leadership–whether it is a minor miscommunication or a major error. When facing such obstacles, it is important to identify the good in any set of circumstances. According to Robert Mann, Universe 2013, the more you look at the positivity, the more positivity the people react to it. In his research it is said that individuals who have identified such positives don’t feel so strongly about the situation and are able to think clearly and solve the problem.

A positive environment makes a better productive workforce. When a leader shows enthusiasm and confidence, they see how much they can improve their workplace. Let me bring your thoughts to my own situation to describe how to maintain a positive attitude. There was an old classmate of mine who didn’t handle a situation well. There was a minor communication problem that eventually led to a bigger problem. He couldn’t see the bright side of the situation and couldn’t discuss a solution with the members, which resulted in the group splitting. And even after ‘reconciling’ with the others he decided he didn’t want to be part of it anymore and just watched from the sidelines while the others moved on and found a solution.

Being detached in such a way in a group effort to resolve a problem showed that there is a lack of positivity and trust, as well as willingness to be part of the solution. Being ignorant and treating yourself as ‘an outsider’ in a situation where you can actually contribute your thoughts, will just be a setback in building the quality of a good leader. Guidance is Better than Giving Orders Instead of controlling people to do certain things, leaders should be able to coach their team members towards a more united and effective workforce. By giving guidance, it creates a more collaborative and empowering environment and team members feel valued to contribute their ideas. Whilst giving orders gives a sense of hierarchy and
obedience. Growth can also be established due to a leader’s teaching and guidance.

For example, I am the oldest out of three siblings. My youngest brother often participates in competitions. My parents entrusted me to help him prepare for them. At first, I just told him to copy what I do, but he didn’t improve. Then I remembered how my teachers guided me patiently instead of telling me to copy their work without understanding the material, so I started to do just that with my brother. I explained things simply and asked for his opinions and ideas. Gradually he was able to
understand and do his work independently. Power of Feedback

A way to give guidance to your team is to give honest feedback–even if it’s criticism–as well as giving the right advice for them. Furthermore, it is also important to highlight their accomplishments. Let them know that they did a good job and thank them for their hard work. Positive recognition can create a productive environment as it is not only encouraging, but also gives a major impact to their work in the long run. In addition to giving feedback, it is also important that we ask for feedback as well. It is hard to do a self-assessment, so it is better to ask from mentors, friends, or colleagues to give you the necessary perspective on your leadership. It is also recommended to get leadership coaching to make improvements in your leadership.

Let me give you an illustration. As students, we do quite a lot of presentations in the class. The habit of asking feedback from your classmates or teammates on the presentation is a good example. Their honest thoughts on the presentation will serve as excellent feedback to improve the quality of your work. However, you need to bear in mind that feedback for the outcome of your work could be positive or negative, just keep an open mind and focus on the improvement side for future tasks rather than creating an insecure feeling for you. Always be positive!

Be Open to New Ideas

Change is not something that can be avoided or stopped, for this reason leaders must learn to accept the inevitable at times. Instead of sticking to the same and old things, leaders must embrace change and its innovations. Good leaders are able to take advantage of change rather than discourage it. It is also important to encourage team members to give their new ideas to the table. Once that is done, innovation and success can flourish.

For instance, during a group project of mine my friend decided to change the whole design of our power point presentation. Instead of getting upset, I suggested we adapt and move the material to the new design. We even took my friends’ suggestion and added a video to explain some of our material, despite someone already working on it. In the end we all agreed and made it work for tomorrow’s presentation.

Don’t be afraid to make changes and always open up to new ideas. Changes and new ideas bring new opportunities to explore other alternatives. This will also help you develop your innovation and creativity skills. You need to push yourself beyond the limit, push yourself to go out of a ‘comfort zone situation’. Always see the bright side and reverse obstacles into opportunity!

In short, leadership is a mindset that is characterized by honest communication, genuine connection, positive attitude, providing guidance, open feedback with each other, and being open to new ideas. Good leadership should be able to create a positive atmosphere where teamwork can flourish, relationships strengthen, and success follows not far after.

Written By: Syifa Azkadewi Dimurthi (10B SMA)