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Leadership: A Natural Gift Print E-mail
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Written by By Mirna G   
Thursday, 07 August 2014 00:00

Leadership can be defined as “the process in which an individual influences a group of individuals to attain a common goal”.  Assuming Leadership can be one of the most difficult tasks an individual undertakes; nevertheless, it is possible.  Whatever the goal is, it can be achieved through mutual understanding and cooperation.  A leader instills a sense of optimism and guides others to that specified goal.

Various theories have been created by psychologists to explain the traits of a leader.  Some traits of a good leader are intelligence, self-confidence/outgoingness, and adjustment, open-mindedness, humbleness, and diligence.  An individual possessing these traits is a sign of a good leader. 

Furthermore, another theory suggests that great life events can lead an ordinary individual to come out as a leader; let’s say that a young man is willing to step out of his comfort zone and do something that he has never done before.  Let’s say that he will volunteer at a summer camp, and he has to teach kids how to maneuver a canoe.  The person that was in charge of him has an emergency and will not be able to come and teach the kids; therefore, the young man will take the initiative to teach the kids how to maneuver the canoe.  He knows that it will be difficult since it is the first time he is working with the kids, but he strongly believes that it can be done and he assures the kids that they will learn how to row the canoe in no time, and that they will have to work together; they will have to be in sync with each other to row the canoe for they will have to know how to paddle in the same direction, and balance themselves in the canoe in order to prevent the canoe from capsizing.  This event could be the stepping stone for the young man’s leadership skills since in this experience he showed optimism, courage (he assumed a huge responsibility because the lives of these kids depends on him as they will be paddling a canoe in open waters), self-confidence, and open-mindedness. 

Then there is a third theory which highlights that leadership is a transformation process.  Anyone can become a leader by learning the leadership skills.  In many communities especially in Belize, there are various workshops or other events that teaches individuals the traits of a good leader, and the leadership skills.  For example, I attended a summer camp that Youth for the Future held a couple years ago, and the theme was Leadership.  We were divided into teams, and each team had to select a leader.  The team selected me to be their leader.  I was surprised because at the time I was a very shy person, but I stood up and I accepted the position.  We had to compete with the other teams; we had to survive through many obstacles: namely we had to cook as a team, clean up as a team, and play games as a team and I had to guide them.  I got to know all my team members well and their abilities.  I selected tasks that they were comfortable with, and we worked really fast.  Then the instructors came and taught us the qualities of a good leader.  They explained that we would learn these leadership skills not only through books, but also through experience; experience makes us wiser.  Everyone has these leadership skills within them; we just need time to develop these skills. 

Moreover, a leader is someone who stands not only for his cause but takes responsibility and motivates others.  There is a difference between being a boss and a leader.  A boss only supervises over his subordinates; on the other hand, a leader inspires others to aim high and achieve that aim.  Power comes naturally to a leader, but it is not a tool of leader.

In addition, leadership is not a quality; rather it is an individual’s behavior.  A leader shows positive attitude, and high-self esteem.  He insistently works towards the goal, but never gets pushy for it. Continuous self-study, training, evaluation, and breathing in positive things in life develop the characteristics of a leader.  Some situations are out of our control in this world, but we can control our reactions.  A leader not only displays optimism, but he helps others see the brighter side of situations.

Lastly, a good leader must gain trust and confidence of his subordinates.  He must also be able to communicate well with his team, and be a knowledgeable person because people respect knowledge.  Most importantly he must work as a team, and team wellbeing should be his primary goal.

My fellow Belizeans it does not matter as to whether or not leadership is a quality or a desired skill acquired through practice.  We are all leaders in our own ways.  We must come out of our shells, and stand up and fight for what is right!  Leadership is doing the right things.  We cannot sit and watch our country dwindle away in flames of violence, and corruption!  As Gordon B. Hinckley said, “You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others…”