"The higher you go in leadership, the more your work is about the future." - Hans Finzel (author)
If you were to ask people what they look for most importantly in a leader, their answer would be a leader who leads by example. A list of other essentials would be in this list too, including (but not limited to): knowledge, strong ethics and morals, fairness, competence, and recognition.
Do you remember being in school as child, catching yourself staring out the window longingly, you mind in a faraway space? Ironically, it is that dreamer that becomes the best leader; they are dreaming of something more . . . something bigger, better, brighter.
A leader needs to communicate his vision clearly, because every leader knows that without action no such vision will materialize, and will remain that of imagination. A leader must remember they are the key holders to their vision, and only they - through creativity and communication - will live their vision. This will coalesce from thought on their metaphorical canvas and begin painting the bigger picture for their whole team.
"Example is leadership." - Albert Schweitzer (Nobel Peace Prize-winner)
A good leader is conscious that they must not only execute the above, but always set the example for those to follow. There is great power in leading by example, a power which can ignite motivation, invigorate inspiration, and harness change. Failing to lead by example can adversely affect performance and work ethic. Failing to lead by example can have your team/followers begin to question your vision - be not that person. In challenging times opt to be that role model of passion, energy, change. You can stimulate all around you . . . or be an overbearing burden.
In my time in my leadership position I have learnt from excellent role models (and some not so good), however, every experience is an experience learned. We all grow up learning right from wrong, and we can apply this throughout our adult lives.
Can leadership be taught? Absolutely; however, I believe it is more necessary to observe leadership in action, to "catch it" so to speak. You can catch good leadership in action. Think about the times you caught your boss doing such (if ever), the times where it struck you and empowered you to think: "Damn, they know what they are doing". Ask yourself: When was the last time words from a leader motivated you to complete your work? Or are you that emerging leader molded by the impact the leaders you have observed?
"People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do." - Lewis Cass
Remember, your employees, your followers, your fellow co-workers are always watching your actions. Let us think back to being a child once again, I am sure you have watched your parents countless times and possibly even emulated many of their actions during the course of your life, thus this act of watching is important on behaviour. Being a leader, the previous example applies directly to you too, as did the child watching his/her parents, so to will your colleagues watch you.
Rising to the level of your own teaching is not an easy thing to do, as it is a lot easier to teach than to do. Conversely, nothing is more erroneous than people who give good advice but fail to set such example. As we already have mentioned, we need to catch those actions, shelf them where needs be, set them where needs be, and teach what we sow as shining beacons of leadership. Leaders do not need to bear titles, you place such titles upon others through their impact upon you.
Say to yourself: the first person I need to try change is myself. The first person I need to lead is myself. Be that good example, and you shall be a good leader.
I wish you the very best on your path to discovering the leader within yourself. Be that model of change, be the good example you set out to be.