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Behaviors form the basis for leadership skills.

The old school of leadership is just that — old school. Gone are the days of Control and Command leaders in the workplace. And, to a lesser degree, gone too are the days of dominant personality leadership.

Sure, there are exceptions to these changes. But for the most part critical leadership skills have segued into a focus on behaviors and actions over traits, titles and “looking the part.” As today’s pity saying goes, “you don’t have to have a title to be a leader.”

This focus on the behaviors and actions of leaders is often paired with an understanding that leaders are made, not born, and that anyone, at any level within an organization, can be (and is) a leader.

One of the key challenges facing leaders is knowing when to be a leader, and when to be a manager. Management and leadership each comprise a set of distinct behavioral skills and responsibilities. These are not style changes or personality traits that can be flipped on and off like a light switch.

As Linda E. Ginzel, clinical professor of managerial psychology at the University of Chicago Booth School of Management wrote, “Recognize that what matters is not whether you fit into some leadership suit of clothes or match up to some template of a leader personality. What matters is how you choose to behave.”

Adds Roger Trapp, in an article in Forbes, “This distinction is crucial because, unlike traits, behaviors form the basis for skills, and skills can be practiced.” Additionally, skills can be developed and learned.

The other foundation for great leaders is having an understanding their own leadership platform — a set of beliefs, values and personal rules related to the kind of leader they want to be. This foundation drives the workplace environment and climate of the team any leader leads.  We will discuss the attributes of the Leadership Mindset in a future blog post.

This article is excerpted from the Introduction of 8 Keys To Becoming A Great Leader by Steven B. Howard. It is available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. 

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