Leadership: Expectation VS Reality
February 18, 2020 Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz
Red paper boat with 3 blue paper boats trailing it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Ricardo Álvarez-Díaz is the founder and principal of the architectural firm Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón, with offices in Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Leadership is a process of social influence which maximizes the efforts of others towards achievement of a goal. – Kevin Kruse

Leadership can be a powerful word. Its etymology can be traced back over 5000 years. The word itself means the ability to see one’s own way, and even though the word carries great significance today, its definition is often misused and misconstrued.


There are many different styles and paths to be an effective leader, nevertheless it always requires including a group and how the person leading the group maximizes other people’s talents not by authority but through social influence. Leadership works towards the achievement of a clear and focused goal.


Leadership has nothing to do with the social, hierarchical, or corporate position of an individual. Nor with any specific personality traits, attributes and titles. It is not management or personnel administration nor manipulation.


YES! Studies indicate that leadership can be learned! It is not something you necessarily are born with. The first step in learning how to be a leader is to identify someone that has the virtues of true leadership and make them your role model. The person can be anyone, including someone you personally know, the key is to take the common leadership characteristics of the people you admire and make a conscious effort to master their habits, characteristics and attitudes.


The most successful leaders have surprising similar qualities. Leaders have a positive attitude, they are honest and good listeners. They are open to change, to new ideas, and new people, plus they are also available to try new and different things. Leaders develop reliability by staying true to their word. They develop loyalty by being at the service of others. They stand firm in their decisions, have a sense of urgency, and use their authority moderately and only when its necessary.

More importantly, leaders are humble, vulnerable, transparent, and empathetic.


Actions speak louder than words. A leader’s behavior is what makes the leader a leader. If a “leader” does not act in a way that other people can look up to, then that person is not a true leader. Here’s how true leaders behave:

They maintain a vision. True leaders know what to achieve, how to achieve it, and why it needs to be achieved. The reasons behind every leader’s vision is what drives the team and the company.

They develop teams and staff. True leaders care about each team member and give the team the tools and opportunities to push their abilities to optimal performance. They put the team or company first.

They care. True leaders genuinely respect and care about people, society, and strive to make the world a better place.

They motivate others. True leaders inspire the team to reach their personal and professional goals.

They accept responsibility. True leaders know that they are accountable for their actions and accept when they are wrong or when they make a mistake.

They plan for long-term success. True leaders create a roadmap of what they want to accomplish in the future and prepare for situations or bumps that may arise along the way.

They establish a framework. True leaders build an organized framework that lets people work efficiently in teams.

They share & request knowledge. True leaders share their learning experiences with others and encourage team members to use that knowledge to their advantage. They also request support from people who have the talents and knowledge that they do not have.

They are not focused on charisma. True leaders aren’t necessarily “celebrities” and they are not focused on being liked by everyone.

What makes a leader is not necessarily the number of followers they have or how much money they make. It has nothing to do with charisma. Leadership encompasses much more. True leaders create a life of meaningful contribution through trust, loyalty, a positive attitude, selfless qualities, and behaviors.


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