Leadership Exposed: Things You
Thought You Knew About Leadership

Much has been written about leadership: rules, pointers, styles, and
biographies of inspiring leaders throughout world history. But there
are certain leadership ideas that we ourselves fail to recognize and
realize in the course of reading books. Here is a short list of things
you thought you knew about leadership.

1. Leaders come in different flavors.

There are different types of leaders and you will probably encounter
more than one type in your lifetime. Formal leaders are those we elect
into positions or offices such as the senators, congressmen, and
presidents of the local clubs. Informal leaders or those we look up to
by virtue of their wisdom and experience such as in the case of the
elders of a tribe, or our grandparents; or by virtue of their expertise
and contribution on a given field such as Albert Einstein in the field
of Theoretical Physics and Leonardo da Vinci in the field of the Arts.
Both formal and informal leaders practice a combination of leadership

·    Lewin’s three
basic leadership styles – authoritative, participative, and

·    Likert’s four
leadership styles – exploitive authoritative, benevolent
authoritative, consultative, and participative

·    Goleman’s six
emotional leadership styles – visionary, coaching, affiliative,
democratic, pacesetting, and commanding.  

2. Leadership is a process of becoming.

Although certain people seem to be born with innate leadership
qualities, without the right environment and exposure, they may fail to
develop their full potential. So like learning how to ride a bicycle,
you can also learn how to become a leader and hone your leadership
abilities. Knowledge on leadership theories and skills may be formally
gained by enrolling in leadership seminars, workshops, and conferences.
Daily interactions with people provide the opportunity to observe and
practice leadership theories. Together, formal and informal learning
will help you gain leadership attitudes, gain leadership insights, and
thus furthering the cycle of learning. You do not become a leader in
one day and just stop. Life-long learning is important in becoming a
good leader for each day brings new experiences that put your
knowledge, skills, and attitude to a test.

3. Leadership starts with you.

The best way to develop leadership qualities is to apply it to your own
life. As an adage goes “action speaks louder than
words.” Leaders are always in the limelight. Keep in mind
that your credibility as a leader depends much on your actions: your
interaction with your family, friends, and co-workers; your way of
managing your personal and organizational responsibilities; and even
the way you talk with the newspaper vendor across the street. Repeated
actions become habits. Habits in turn form a person’s
character. Steven Covey’s book entitled 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People provides good insights on how you can achieve personal

4. Leadership is shared.

Leadership is not the sole responsibility of one person, but rather a
shared responsibility among members of an emerging team. A leader
belongs to a group. Each member has responsibilities to fulfill. Formal
leadership positions are merely added responsibilities aside from their
responsibilities as members of the team. Effective leadership requires
members to do their share of work. Starting as a mere group of
individuals, members and leaders work towards the formation of an
effective team. In this light, social interaction plays a major role in
leadership. To learn how to work together requires a great deal of
trust between and among leaders and members of an emerging team. Trust
is built upon actions and not merely on words. When mutual respect
exists, trust is fostered and confidence is built.

5. Leadership styles depend on the situation.

How come dictatorship works for Singapore but not in the United States
of America? Aside from culture, beliefs, value system, and form of
government, the current situation of a nation also affects the
leadership styles used by its formal leaders. There is no rule that
only one style can be used. Most of the time, leaders employ a
combination of leadership styles depending on the situation. In
emergency situations such as periods of war and calamity,
decision-making is a matter of life and death. Thus, a
nation’s leader cannot afford to consult with all departments
to arrive at crucial decisions. The case is of course different in
times of peace and order—different sectors and other branches of
government can freely interact and participate in governance. Another
case in point is in leading organizations. When the staffs are highly
motivated and competent, a combination of high delegative and moderate
participative styles of leadership is most appropriate. But if the
staffs have low competence and low commitment, a combination of high
coaching, high supporting, and high directing behavior from
organizational leaders is required.

Now that you are reminded of these things, keep in mind that there are
always ideas that we think we already know; concepts we take for
granted, but are actually the most useful insights on leadership.


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Diane Higgins

"Be your authentic self it's the path to success."-Psychologist Diane Higgins has authored numerous papers and has lectured extensively helping people find their authentic self, learn to be being purposeful and develop positive thinking. Diane is the author and/or editor of our Self Help Section.
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