The concept of leadership is one that seems to have been flogged to death. However, we cannot have a clear understanding of leadership without some basic elements, a few of which I intend to highlight in this article.

There must be a vision

A vision is the “big picture”. That thing that everyone clearly sees as the culmination of all efforts. It is the “why” of every organisation, and every individual must see this established and clearly defined vision. It is the job of the leader(s) to make this abundantly clear to subordinates in order for them to know the direction their duties should take them.

Every individual in an organisation must be able to draw a straight line between the work they do (tasks and roles) and the achievement of the organisation’s goals. If they can’t see the role their performance plays in determining the achievement of organisational goals, then they are not seeing the “big picture”. They do not understand the vision that the leadership is working to achieve. If they do not see this vision, regardless of what you think as the leader, there is a problem.

Sharing that vision

It is the duty of leaders to share this established vision with those who follow. When they understand what the vision is, they can follow the leadership willingly. Leaders need people who will willingly follow because it is only the willing that can make sacrifices and make themselves available to the organisation at personal costs in some cases, because they understand, agree with and believe in the vision that is borne by the leadership.

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That can only happen if leaders share the vision.

At times, the vision changes as the organisation encounters different circumstances, ideas or opportunities that may require a redefinition or reconceptualisation of the vision. That means that the direction that the organisation takes may have to change. When this change happens, leaders must communicate the reason for the change to their followers because when they understand and agree with it, they will willingly follow.

Information, knowledge and methods

Leaders bear the incontrovertible duty of making information, knowledge and methods available to those who follow. It is morally unjustifiable for a leader to demand excellent performance from subordinates if that leader has not provided them with the knowledge and information they need to have, and the methods they must employ in getting work done.

Methods are a particular procedure for accomplishing or approaching something. If they are not armed with these things, you as a leader, cannot justifiably demand productivity from them. This is the main reason organisations train their people.

Leaders must balance the interests of members and stakeholders to avoid conflicts.

It’s not enough for leaders to understand the principles of conflict resolution, they must also understand the principles of conflict avoidance. They must learn to balance the interests of subordinates and other stakeholders in such a way that conflicts are avoided.

For the leaders to be able to do this, they must know and understand what the interests are and the directions in which they have to push or pull in order to create the necessary balance. Also, for leaders to be able to avoid or resolve conflicts, they must have a good understanding of the parties involved. That understanding is what creates a clear line of sight between them and the potential for conflict with its resolution or avoidance.

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Leadership is a complex concept. However, the rudiments of leadership are what we have managed to take a peek at. Hopefully, I have succeeded in making the concept a bit clearer for some.