Something I wrote about my thoughts of leading. Rather real ideal, at that. It became a bit long so I divided it into paragraphs and wrote a table of contents for them Comments, please. I'm sorry for bad writing style; it was done in haste.
1) Leader's job is to prepare the opportunity for others to work.
2) Leader does so by calculating the situation and finding out and demonstrating a desirable goal and efficient, agreeable methods to achieve it.
3) Without formal management role, one becomes a leader by finding a potential for mutual benefit and starting negotiations about it.
4) Work roles and tasks can be assigned directly, but often need not to when in an informal setting. Leading by example can work to good effect.
5) Leader acknowledges the norms, values and desires of people being lead and attempts to lead in the best manner so as to preserve these values.
6) Goals are to be accomplished by dividing it to tasks that the people in question are willing to perform. Finding this out is part of initial research and negotiation into the project.
7) People are only willing to go the extra mile for a leader who's gone the extra mile to help them.
8) Sometimes projects have to be abandoned, and people need to take the responsibility. Leader must be fair in enforcing the results of responsibilities for each and everyone, including themselves. Abandoning a project can be done gracefully, so that personal connections may stay intact.
9) The leader should work along in the same tasks with the others, if there's opportunity.
1) My view of ideal leadership, something I'm trying to pursue myself, has the leader preparing the opportunity for others to work. He takes on tasks that wouldn't get done otherwise, i.e. removes the bottlenecks. The best person in a team to do tasks requiring humility is the leader him (her) self.
2) He does the calculations that show a net positive or negative effect of planned work, and work done per unit of resources spent (may be time, money, or both). A good leader has researched the background factors affecting the work, and can explain these factors in a concise, agreeable manner so as to enable efficient working.
3 When outside formal work settings, the best method to lead would be to see a mutually desirable goal, and to demonstrate - either verbally, or perhaps with some tools available - that the goal can be effectively reached with the resources available.
4) Effective leading gives the "role" or task of everyone; often with informal teams, not everyone's role need to be explicitly stated. People learn by watching, they can figure out a good tasks for themselves on their own, or the job might not need the involvement of everyone in a particular task, freeing up some people to brainstorm and giving them the opportunity to show initiative.
5) The most effective leader relies on mutually agreeable and recognizable norms on working together, making it very easy to anticipate what the leader expects. It's about finding best practices. The leader provides a fair, understandable, recognizable "face" for the system of work he has devised; the leader, at the core, is an operator of a management system, something that's inside his head - continuous, logical and fair. The leader is, in fact, a service provider - and his service is in the area of leading.
6) The leader does provide for direct instructions, but they should only be in the area of work that has been already agreed on. In the case when someone needs to be directly instructed to do something he hasn't & wouldn't agree to do, negotiations are needed. Part of leadership is to stay on top of what kind of jobs people might agree to do and what not, and to arrange the work to be done with the minimum of disagreeable tasks, if any. Disagreeable tasks may most often be worked around; sometimes not. For this reason, the leader should be knowledgeable about the problem domain, in order to anticipate whether the task can be accomplished in an agreeable manner for everyone.
7) Leader may ask some disagreeable tasks to be done as a favor, but he must do so with empathy. Sometimes the work might not move on with some person refusing to do a particular task. This is where leadership is really measured. It's for the leader to choose such goals that can be accomplished with agreeable methods. Sometimes it's enough that the job seemed doable in the beginning, so everyone can just endure it and do it anyway, although it's pain in the ass, frustrating, uncomfortable or otherwise just not fun to do. There can be surprises. If the leader has earned enough respect from his subordinates, they may go the extra mile for him to do the job.
8) Still, sometimes, some projects have to be abandoned. Then it's up to the leader to recover what can be salvaged, perhaps reassess and come again with better knowledge and greater resources. If not, then the responsibility of the failure has to be taken, according to who were responsible for what part. For this reason, responsibilities should be clear and fair for everyone.
9) In small teams, the leader should absolutely be a team member, doing as much of the practical work as anyone else. Only with bigger teams does it become practical for the leader to concentrate on management as opposed to performing the actual work with the team.
*) Hmm I've got more but that's just a few ideas I bounced around. I'm seeking to enter a managerial position in the next 10 years, and I know to have mature enough ideas of leading so that I know not to be drawn into it by the ability to "push" people around, or to fulfill some "hero/villain" fantasy or anything like that. In informal settings, I show some initiative, but understand people mostly need a friend and an equal partner in their tasks.