10 Elements of Leadership: Definitions
Leading with good character is essential, which is why Alzar School emphasizes this element first and foremost. An individual’s character is often described in terms of the presence or lack of virtues. These virtues often include, but are not limited to: justice, self-control, love, positive attitude, hard work, integrity, honesty, gratitude, maturity, and humility. Alzar School encourages virtues that transcend cultural, generational, and national differences.
Strong leaders must exhibit a certain level of technical proficiency in the areas their groups operate. For example, to be a leader in business, one must understand budgeting, marketing, sales, etc. To be a leader in government, one must grasp the fundamentals of law, politics, and bureaucracy. In the outdoor world, if you intend to lead an expedition to summit Mount Everest, you must be highly proficient in mountaineering, crevasse rescue, high altitude camping, and more.
The key to being able to effectively solve problems is to know how to grapple with them. Strong leaders can evaluate problems from all angles, considering many factors influencing the scenario. They can use the “Decision Making Model” to brainstorm a multitude of solutions to the problem, then carefully analyze the potential outcomes, arriving at a solution. Alzar School calls this mastery of the decision-making process “360˚ thinking.”
Resiliency and resourcefulness
Unfortunately, leading is not always a smooth process. When facing adversity, a leader must be resilient—able to recover and thrive in times of difficulty and change. They demonstrate this by avoiding complaining, whining, and self-pity, instead viewing obstacles as challenges to shine. They maintain a positive attitude, spread optimism, and keep their sense of humor intact when things get tough. Additionally, a strong leader does not bemoan a lack of tools, but rather finds innovative ways to use what is available—demonstrating resourcefulness. They are able to be creative in situations where others fail.
Strong leaders are able to spread their ideas through their effective communications skills. They are clear, concise, and thorough in describing ideas. Alzar School stresses that leaders must be able to communicate on a one-on-one basis, as well as in small and large group settings. Additionally, leaders must be able to utilize other forms of communication, including written, electronic, and other forms of media.
Each leader has their own personal style that is influenced by their personal history and their strengths and weaknesses in the other elements of leadership. To maximize their abilities as a leader, they must know themselves fully and accurately. By inventorying their areas of proficiencies and limitations, leaders can act from a position of strength, and collaborate with others to compensate for their weaknesses. Additionally, they must be aware of the group’s needs, and other members’ strengths and weaknesses.
Personal leadership and follow-through
Before taking the reins of a group, an effective leader must exhibit personal leadership. One who does this is often described as “having their stuff together.” They demonstrate personal leadership by caring for themselves and their equipment, by arriving to meetings and appointments punctually, and by managing their times and tasks efficiently. “Follow-through” is the ability to accomplish that which a leader sets out to do, or, in other words, getting the job done. When an Alzar School leader makes a commitment, they work diligently to ensure it happens.
Community membership and service
Tying together all of the above elements of leadership, a strong leader is constantly aware that they are a member of a community. They belong to a family, neighborhood, school, state, nation, etc. They are able to resolve conflicts and interact appropriately with a wide variety of personality types. As a leader, they strive to be a contributing member of that community and to achieve this, they must offer their service to the group. Service sometimes involves putting group goals and objectives above one’s own. Alzar School leaders serve our small community, their home communities, and the planet through carefully planned service projects.
In order to accomplish group goals, leaders must first determine the objectives of their group. Leaders take these goals and motivate a group to accomplish more than the sum of all individuals could. Inspiring the group is essential, and this skill is often intricately linked with a leader’s communication skills. A strong leader’s vision must include short and long-term planning, and the intermediate steps to move a group to that final vision. Visions that leaders create can be on the scale of a single meeting, a day, an expedition, or even multiple years.
Continual learning and improvement
Lastly, one of the most important qualities of a leader is humility and an understanding that one’s personal growth is never finished. Strong leaders are constantly looking for the lesson in their opportunities as leaders, searching for ways to improve for the next time they are entrusted with the authority of leadership. They reflect upon their experiences, seek feedback from peers, colleagues, and mentors, and use this feedback to change and grow. This element is an attitude, a way of conducting oneself, and is demonstrated by an openness and a thoughtful approach to situations.