After reading some great books on "Social Media" and "Social Business" in the last 6 months I stumbled across another fascinating yet wholly unexpected gem of a read.
The author, Tim Elmore, writes informatively in a relaxed style in his book: "Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save their Future". A book that looks at the generation of youngsters that are joining the workforce now for the first time and will be our (the Baby Boomers and Generation X's) leaders, Presidents, Prime Ministers', Kings and Queens.
He writes a section which I have quoted here below on the key and essential qualities that enable a person to leverage his or her influence (leadership) positively. He is of the opinion that leaders are not born but are made. A belief that I also hold - that all individuals have the ability to lead / influence based on a skill or set of skills they have or can (but not necessarily 'will') develop over time and practice.
The qualities, and the examples of these qualities that he provides are grass-roots and strangely tangible in a comfortable way that I have not considered previously. They are geared towards the younger generation of leaders, but if you engage the right side of the brain the words and the meaning feels cross generational.
Leadership Quality #1: Perception
The first leadership signal has to do with the way a person thinks. Leaders perceive the world differently than the majority of their peers; they’re able to see a bigger picture. While they remain most concerned with their own needs (like most youth), their perspective extends beyond those needs. They see how situations impact others around them, and they can look beyond the immediate moment. Perception can show itself in a number of ways. For instance, a twelve-year-old may arrive at a restaurant with her parents knowing the family will be meeting friends for a meal. Without instruction, she enters the restaurant and figures out how big the table must be and how many chairs they’ll need to request of the hostess.
Leadership Quality #2: Responsibility
Leaders are motivated to cover bases and make things right even without being told to do so. Young people with this quality feel responsible for outcomes. They assume it is up to them to help solve problems or correct false statements or even help someone who cannot do something for themselves. They “own” the tasks they’re given. Their sense of responsibility may take the form of attention to detail and concern about matters that their peers might find trivial. Other times, it manifests itself as an extra effort to reach a desired goal or fulfill a task as thoroughly as possible. Young people who display this trait are often an establishment’s best workers.
Leadership Quality #3: Gratitude
Research on what gratitude does for a person has shown results that are nothing short of amazing. Not long ago, I listened to Dr. Jean Twenge confirm the positive power of gratitude in youth. In a speech to educators, she stressed that a grateful attitude subdues self-absorption, depression, and anger. (It is difficult to be grateful and angry at the same time.) What’s more, gratitude fosters hope and humility. Reflect on this for a moment. People who have an “attitude of gratitude” naturally express humility as they acknowledge thanks for the people and experiences they’ve encountered. Gratitude also lends hope as the grateful person focuses on the positive input in their life instead of the things they never received. I no longer hire team members who don’t express gratitude about their past. This quality may seem disconnected from their leadership but I’ve come to believe the two walk hand in hand. Gratitude enables people to see holistically and to recognize that life is about something bigger than them.
Leadership Quality #4: Initiative
This is the internal drive to act. When leaders perceive something could be done to improve a situation, they believe it should be done, and they step out first to do it. They don’t necessarily wait for peers to approve. At times, they don’t even wait to see if their behavior is the norm or if it is safe. They go first. This quality can lead young people to do some very stupid things—things they might even get punished for. Immaturity might color their judgment, but that urge to act is a clear sign of a leader’s desire to take initiative. The young person’s perception is clear and his dissatisfaction is compelling. I’ve known kids to get involved with recycling bottles or raising money for a friend who has cancer or even collecting clothes and food for Haiti because they have a strong sense of initiative.
Extract from: Tim Elmore's, Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future [Kindle Edition]
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