An important and common question that is often asked: What makes an effective leader?
Leadership is defined as “the process in which an individual influences the group of individuals to attain a common goal (1)”. The goal is attained by reciprocated cooperation and cohesive behaviour. A leader infuses a sense of positivity and directs others to reach the specified goal.
To further the leadership definition, one can add that a leader should be a role model for his or her team. In reality, the best way to understand team players is to have been in their footsteps and remember “To be a good leader is to be a good follower (2).” That’s because one can only truly understand what others are experiencing only if he or she has experienced it! Of course, one does not need to have lived every single experience, but one needs to have enough experience being a follower to be able to accurately understand the follower’s emotional state. Leaders use active listening skills to confirm and fine tune their understanding of emotional states.
The definition of leadership isn’t as simple to understand as reading a dictionary definition. It’s an involved definition, and nobody has completely defined leadership! Some state that true leaders are born with the ‘leadership’ qualities and thus are great leaders. Others have provided their definition of leadership and associated the human characteristics that one must possess or acquire in order to be a leader. Leadership theories and leadership styles are all proven concepts of the difficulty in defining leadership.
A leader has a dream, and the passion to pursue it. A leader also has analytical skills, decision-making ability, and a go-getter attitude. Leaders dream big and have the grit to bring those dreams into reality. They also possess virtues like integrity, dedication, fairness, openness of mind to greet new ideas, and innovativeness. A good leader is one who is influential enough to get others to follow him/her willingly. In essense, as Warren Bennis said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality (3)”.
Marketing leaders have the same character traits as other leaders. In many ways, all leaders are marketers as they must persuade others to follow. In other words, what they market are ideas. In marketing products and services, leaders can be found throughout history and on every continent. Marco Polo found noodles in east Asia and made it a staple of Italian cuisine. Christopher Columbus convinced Spanish royalty that one could reach Asia by sailing west from Europe. Muhammed Yunus sold the entire world on micro-lending. All Digital Marketing leaders must convince their organizations to reduce dependence on traditional media and invest in social media, online advertising, and email marketing.
1. Leadership style: http://www.brighthub.com/office/home/articles/76450.aspx
2. Abraham Zaleznik: Managers and Leaders: Are They Different? https://hbr.org/2004/01/managers-and-leaders-are-they-different