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Leadership is not isolated to work, nor is it to the number of direct reports you have. If you want to succeed in life, holistically, and build a successful career then you need to be able to lead. Let’s explore.
A recent article by Kate Jones http://www.smh.com.au opens up the debate and reveals those traits that we should consider and take on board to allow us to become effective leaders. “Good leaders can steer a business through nine to five, but great leaders can navigate a company into the next generation.”
Good leaders can be content with the status quo but great leaders are able to innovate and disrupt to ensure organisations stay on the cutting edge. They take that extra step to go beyond that of a Manager, they understand how to inspire teams and build a motivated, engaged work place.
The transition from a good to a great leader can make a huge difference to the direction of organisations by implementing some simple but effective practices. Note these;
- Boost Emotional Intelligence
Think One Team Executive Director Graham Winter says, “Emotional Intelligence is equally important as IQ for leaders. A high EQ leader is savvy at managing their own emotions such as anger and frustration, while being aware and skillful in navigating the emotion of others.”
At a personal level they can gain empathy because of the way that they handle ambiguity and by building relationships and trust. This also leads to notions expanding beyond people leadership and into customer leadership as it impacts areas such as design thinking and customer experience.
“Great leaders recognise the need to update their skills as a business changes”, says Adam Schwab Co-founder and Chief Executive of AussieCommerce Group. Change is the one constant in today’s economic climate. The ability to be an agile, lifelong learner demonstrates an entrepreneurial and progressive mindset that will lead and drive growth mandates as opposed to managing business as usual. Schwab continues, “Leadership skills change as a business evolves – a great start up leader is usually not a great leader of a big organisation. Bill Gates is a great example of that.”
Leadership adaptation is critical as we steer our organisations through transformation – whether towards a growth strategy, a takeover, restructuring for cost and efficiencies, through periods of investment or in start-up contexts. Schwab says, “For growing businesses, a leader needs to be someone who can literally do everything – as a business evolves, the leader needs to be someone who is able to put together a great team and guide them where needed.”
- Be Totally Honest
Michael Banks LocalAgentFinder says, “A leader who disseminates only the good news is likely to face credibility doubts.” Great leaders let their teams know what is actually happening – the good, the bad and the ugly. Or, the achievable, the roadblocks, the challenges and the solutions. Teams always respond better to truth tellers – transparency and openness is key. Leading with authenticity is what creates trust and respect.
- Encourage One Team Culture
More from Winter:
“The great leader shuns status and insists on creating a one team enterprise in which the collective intelligence is the prime source of advantage.”
Additionally, “They break down the barriers, challenge the old chestnuts like performance management and change management and they open up and connect enterprises.”
Welcome to 2015 – de-silo, transform, cross-sell, engage and truly collaborate for the collective success of one enterprise. The ability to inspire these activities and shift outdated paradigms towards unified visions, collective influence and authentic customer and people engagement, will grow businesses and is what great leaders are made of today.
- Accept Ideas From Others – Customer Prime Mindset
Great leaders aren’t dictators. They are receptive to the ideas of their people, customers and suppliers. Banks says he is acutely aware of the danger in his role as Chief Executive of his company’s product representing his ideas, rather than the best ideas. Banks says, “To avoid that happening we have implemented a strict testing methodology that allows our customers’ actions to tell us the best path forward.”
- Hire A Great Team
Great leaders surround themselves with forward thinkers and industry experts. Often direct reporting teams are smarter, more talented and more experienced. Creating a diverse team make-up is how leaders can build and sustain powerful and enduring teams.
A good idea is to hire someone who initially does not stand out. Hire wisely and bring outside talent in. As always, be prepared to spend money on furthering the education and development of existing talent. Invest in the training and succession of potential leaders. Encourage a workplace of stretch, out-performance, learning, curiosity and creativity to bring out the best in your people.
What can we take from this to sharpen our leadership impact?
There is no doubt that learning to lead is an essential ingredient in developing our people, spotting the leaders of the future and at the same time, allowing us to achieve our collective goals and results for enterprise success. The information provided in this article by Kate Jones can open up our thinking by showing us how to set ourselves, our people and our customers up for success today and into tomorrow during this era of constant change.
Good leaders are easy to find. Exceptional leaders break the mould. Constantly looking for change intelligently, being prepared to disrupt and moving away from the status quo are traits of these exceptional leaders.
Think about developing your emotional intelligence (EQ) as a leader. This skill relates to urging our people to think more about how customers can benefit from our leadership, particularly in how we design our products, policies and processes to service them. Ultimately, great leaders exist to not only deliver commercial return and profit to their shareholders – that goes without saying – but critically, they are uncompromising on fulfilling the organisation’s promise to its customers and people.
It is often difficult to lay the truth out on the line. There are definitely times when you need to be brutally honest. There can be no half measures because this is about developing your people and showing the way with clarity. However care needs to be taken. The manner is which you dispense the rectification is critical. You need to be sensitive but plain speaking. This is all about leading your people forward, so they can achieve personally and collectively.
Great leadership becomes clear when your people are marching to the same tune. I mean culture. A one-person leader will never become a great leader because those responsible for the results of your enterprise need and want to become part of decision making processes, and recognised for their contribution. I mean engagement.
Shared views that result in advantages for your organisation are the bedrock foundations of the sharing of ideas, that totaled, become company culture.
Great leaders create people and customer culture. They drive sustainable change and growth for tomorrow. They are legacy leaders.