I know that you have probably heard the statement Knowledge is power. This statement is absolutely true. People rely on leaders primarily for what they know. People need leaders in order to fill a void that they feel may be keeping them from fulfilling some perceived personal goal. The leader is perceived as having the answer that people cant find for themselves. In this context knowledge is power and there are various types of knowledge which can empower the leader to maintain his or her leadership status.
The technical expert or supervisor either formally or informally has the power of knowledge and experience. He or she uses that expertise to direct their followers towards an expected end. There are other skills which go along with the knowledge and we will discuss some of those later but the leader must have the superior knowledge in order to be effective.
The informal leader or the group leader may just lead a group of people. Say for example that group is a criminal gang. The group leader is normally the most successful and experienced criminal in the gang. He or she also has knowledge of all of the other members and their capabilities. He or she will have superior knowledge of the criminal activities that the gang seeks to engage in. Other members will go to that member for answers to their questions about gang proceedings or how to avoid the law. So as you see knowledge is still power regardless of whether it is wielded in a corporate setting, a group setting, or even a family or informal setting. The leader in any setting is most successful when he or she knows how to deal with people and extract whatever the situation demands from people in order to get the job done.
The effective leader must stay on top of the situation at hand. He or she must keep their finger on the pulse of whats going on and make the necessary adjustments or decisions. People will turn to the leader in times of crisis because they expect that leader to know what to do in order to resolve the situation. The downside of this is that people want someone to blame when things dont go the way that they think they should have. I can remember how then President Bush was blamed for every possible problem that occurred when hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. The president had no idea of ninety percent of all of the things that he was blamed for. This is just the cost of being a leader because people will unrealistically blame all of their own problems and shortcomings on you. When you are the perceived expert be prepared for people to flock to you in time of crisis, but beware the consequences of allowing this.
In addition to having knowledge the true leader must have competence. He or she must know how to get things done and must be effective in accomplishing a job or task. People will not follow a leader who is inefficient.
The good leader must also have the wisdom to apply knowledge to circumstances as they are happening. He or she must know when to use people in different situations. I liken this ability to the football coach who has to use certain personnel in certain circumstances. If the coach does not utilize the right people at the right time he will not be successful.
On top of all of these things the good leader needs to have good social skills. He or she must be able to get people to willingly perform. It is possible to be an effective leader who knows how to coerce people into action but this type of leadership is costly and really is not desirable. Riceland Enterprises