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"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." — Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut
This is true for leadership. If you want to lead you have to practice leading as this quote points out. What does it mean to practice leadership? To define leadership let's use the acronym PRACTICE:
Planning – Figure out the steps you have to take. If a goal is to be achieved the conditions and resources must be put in place.
Right tool/technique – Interestingly enough, effective leadership is like a toolbox. Always use the right tool for the right job. This means knowing both your tools and the problem that you are trying to fix.
Awareness – Having a common knowledge or understanding. Knowledge gained from observation, data, and personal involvement. This includes self-awareness which means you need to know yourself.
Communication – Without it you travel alone. To become an effective communicator, you must know how to clarify your messages, be a good listener, be truthful in your words, and get feedback from those who listen.
Teamwork – People working together cooperatively can accomplish more. Leaders should not think of themselves as simply managers, supervisors, etc.; but rather as "team leaders.
Innovation – Innovation is two-fold: Bring new thinking and different actions to how you lead as well as creating a climate where others apply innovative thinking to solve problems and develop new products and services.
Culture – Culture tells people how to relate and how to get rewards by set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices. Culture is the mechanism whereby not only management, but employees shape each others' behavior.
Environment – Leaders create conditions for success. A learning environment with respect for each other which allows for empowered engagement and team work.
The practice of leadership is setting the right example, providing vision and guidance, and doing so is necessary for people within the organization to succeed. The really hard part, the art of leadership, is known as what to do, and when, why, and how to do it.
"It's only in the practice of leadership that we influence our world" - unknown