No, they don't pop just out with bulletproof bat-suits or rectangular mustaches. They are made through failure, effort, learning and experience
First things first, who is a leader?
It's easy to be misled when trying to understand who a leader is, specially when comparing against managers and supervisors. But it's simple - a leader is a person who initiates actions, or makes the first move. They have their own style, their own flair, and pave the road before others walk them. Got it? Now...
How are they different from managers?
Managers are those who are the first to walk that road constructed by the leaders, and they walk it well. What they do is make an invention into perfection, accompanied by the leader. The manager maintains, imitates, and develops, whereas the leader originates, inspires and challenges. A fine line, but you get the gist.
How do I know if I'm a leader?
It becomes a bit difficult when you're trying to identify thyself, hence we advise a bit of help from a friend. Now that you understand what makes a leader different, you could (from a third perspective) try to figure out how you made changes in your life, your workplace, your circles and your home. Remember, by default, you are your own leader, but to lead others means you have to show them a better path and be the marginal change maker.
A common criticism of leaders is the fact that they aren't real leaders because they didn't start anything new or fresh, but things already established elsewhere. Uh no. Not at all fellows! They still are real leaders, and the fact that matters is that they initiated change in the first place. So, take a screenshot of your memory and answer solemnly to the following self-question:
Am I a leader?
If yes, there's no need to state that there is still more room for development, even if you're Mahatma Gandhi. If no, keep reading. There is a hidden leader in everyone, but only a few can release the beast inside. If you wish to uncage your Mandela, we highly suggest a pen and paper.
Why become a leader?
Seriously dude, what's the point? Yes, you have every right to ask, and take heed that it's a personal choice entirely. Let's put it out there why it may be cool to be a leader, okay? The choice is yours, and not choosing to be a leader has NO consequences whatsoever. Managers are cooler in more aspects, they earn much, much more in numerous instances, and it's in fact less stressful.
So why? Because you're doing what you love. Steve Jobs didn't sit in his garage week after week thinking of ways to make the coolest phone in the world if he didn't love what he did. He could have made sandwiches and organise his turtle-necks. But he didn't. He chose to make something different and impress everyone around him, because A, he could and B, he was driven. They are one in hundreds, these leaders, and they are in a class of their own. It is a pleasure of ultimate bounds to have made a real change with your own hands, to have made a difference (for better or worse, whatever floats your boat) and do something no one around you (there's always a dude/dudette in China though) thought to be possible. You become an icon of development, of creativity and will be remembered for your contribution. It's usually not about the money for a leader, but the outcome which makes all the difference.
What sets leaders apart
Characteristics of good leaders
Confidence in abundance
Leaders are magnets of positive thinking. Leaders know well how hard it may become for them and what awaits, but it only brightens their flame. They exuberate in confidence and nothing can stop them from their “out-of-their-minds” goals,
Me! Me! Meee!
Leaders love to stand up and take responsibility. This doesn't necessarily mean those frontbenchers aka Hanna Montanas are leaders, mind you. It means they know their part and will willingly take accountability for it. When it comes to them, slacking off is never an option.
They have enough pillars to balance the sun
Failure is the pillar of success, and leaders collect them like matchsticks. Not that they fail willingly, no. They have tried and weren't able to hit the mark, and they learnt from it. Failure motivates them to get up even harder, till they succeed.
Loyalty is their novelty
Leaders know what they want, and they don't stop till they get it. They're noble to the cause, and get the job done.
Steps to leadership
You guessed it! It's not easy. But follow these steps and soon you'll have a little battalion of people supporting your cause. And that in fact, is the first step.
Step 1: Have a cause, that you love
Now this part here you have to decipher according to your own world. You want to make a change? Start small. Plan it out, step by step, according to what you can do now with your current capabilities. As you start, possibilities start spouting left and right, so don't worry. But that cause has to be driven by passion, by love. Smooshy words, yes, but if you don't love what you do, you won't stick to it till the end.
Comparing it to your love life? Perfect! That's exactly it, really. Pick one, pick well, and live with it till the end.
Step 2: Know your stuff, fully
When trying to initiate change, people always assume you know all about the subject in question. It's shattering to disappoint them on that regard. Be knowledgeable, studious and nerdy. Can't fake it forever, can you?
Step 3: Be respectful, genuinely
Respect here means to regard others on equal ground. No one pops out as an empire ruling, sword wielding Batman. You have to learn first, and the experience is heightened by respecting what others do and learning from everybody. What can I learn from the troll that steals my lunch money? That size matters, and fear is one way of gaining power. See?
Step 4: Be kind, with everything
A big part of a leader comes from being on good terms with everybody. A simple step? Be genuine with your compliments, cherish the little things, and be annoyingly, nerve-rackingly, pain-in-the-bum jolly!
Step 5: Fake courage, hold the wee
When in danger, against opposition of intimidation or something genuinely scary, even a lion let out a pint. It's natural to be afraid, scared and intimidated. Solution? Fake it. Practice your poker face and don't ever let 'em see you sweat!
Step 6: Seriously, have fun
Nothing is worth it if there isn't fun involved, right? Learn to put a smile on your face and let it slide once in a while. No one takes a serious guy seriously anymore.
Looking back, they say:
Quotes from established young leaders around us
“In order to attain any success, you have to be loyal and honest to yourself and to everyone around you.”
- Riyad Shahir Ahmed Husain, Magnito Digital
“After a few decades when you are sitting on a hospital bed, you are not going to regret the things you did, but the things that you didn’t do.”
- Bijon Islam, LightCastle Partners (quote taken from Bollywood movie “3 idiots”)
“Read a lot of books. Seriously, read a lot of books! There’s no such thing as the power of knowledge. Knowledge is the most amazing thing on earth and the best way to gain and retain knowledge is to read a lot of books. That, however, doesn’t mean that you have to be a book-monkey and a socially awkward person. Even a small amount of leadership quality will take you far in life.”
- Muhammad Saimum Hossain, Geeky Social