Are You Ready to Be a Leader?

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Are You Ready to Be a Leader?

Simon Wallace | 11th June 2014

I recall being asked this same question by my boss in my first job more than 27 years ago; at the time I did not fully appreciate the significance nor understand the implications of my quick response “sure, give me more responsibility” but I’ve since learnt through discovery and many lessons that to become a leader and to live those values that define your beliefs requires a very good understanding of the ‘leader’ destination in order to determine how to get there!

“Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on the earth.” ¹

Leader versus Leadership

To determine how to become a leader it is important that the aspiring leader understands the difference between leader and leadership. The terms leader and leadership are too often used to describe the individual, the same thing rather than the definitions that I have learnt to be more useful, namely: a leader is singular (human capital) and leadership is many (social capital).

Leader versus Manager

The aspiring leader must also become a manger, that is s/he must determine and confirm strategy (‘the right thing to do’) as well as work on and deliver efficiencies (‘do the right thing right) and when required give and receive feedback to confirm that ‘the right thing’ is in fact right!

The leader as a manager must master the following five key management tasks: planning; organising; staffing; directing and controlling.

Great Leaders build High Performance Leadership

Great leaders are not always great mangers and therefore another talent of a great leader is delegation and building high performance leadership teams that better manage a given situation than s/he ever could.

Great leadership allows the leader to ‘work on’ (be strategic) rather than always ‘working in’ the business (being operational).

Leader and Leadership Style

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes: some transactional, managing by objectives; some transformational, charismatic and inspiring, and some having a combination of both characteristics. Substantial evidence now exists that supports the idea that by developing transformational and constructive transactional leadership styles one could expect a greater, positive impact on follower motivation and performance. ²

Collaboration and teamwork during strategy formulation and command and control through implementation has always worked for me.

Leaders Born or Made

Are leaders made or born? Evidence is now accumulating that suggests that one can develop leaders and leadership. ³

Great leaders embrace their own self-leadership development journey, oops self-leader journey!

Are You Ready to Be a Leader?

To self-develop one has to: be ready; be aware; be subject to a planned or unplanned trigger event; self-regulate; have the right environment and be given the support to get there.

I have had both dreadful and brilliant leaders to follow. My very best leader involved me, told me, showed me and then got out of my way! That said they could always see what I was doing from a distance and when the time was right gave me regular feedback good or bad.

Are you ready to be a leader?


  1. Burns 1978, Leadership, New York: Harper and Row.
  2. Avolio 2010, Pursuing Authentic Leadership Development. Watertown, MA: Harvard Business Publishing, p2, 14 & 30;
  3. Avolio, Rotundo & Walumbwa (In Press) Early life experiences and environmental factors as determinants of leadership emergence: The role of parental influence on ruling behavior. The Leadership Quarterly.


About the Author

Simon Wallace is founder of The Whole Thing Group and passionate about performance improvement. Creative entrepreneur and trusted advisor to some great companies that are achieving great things.

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