With tough global challenges in a changing world of business, the need to recruit & train inspiring leaders capable of instilling hope & passion is greater now than ever.
These challenges have re-ignited the debate about the qualities of an effective leader. Current research suggests that it is more than a list of traits. Leaders need to be flexible, able to adapt their strategies in line with their personal qualities, the organisation culture, and the needs of the situation. The new thinking about leadership stresses authenticity, openness, caring and flexibility.
Leaders need to be genuine and lead by example; they need to be understanding and emotionally connected in order to inspire loyalty among teams and individuals. So what are the six important keys to become a more effective leader?
Quality 1: A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way
– John C. Maxwell
A leader who has walked in the shoes of the people they are leading is more likely to inspire loyal followers. Leaders need to be able to demonstrate that they live by the same principles and rules that their followers are expected to embrace. There is no doubt that leadership by example is both powerful and inspiring. Inspiring personal stories of overcoming personal and organisational challenges help to ‘show others the way’ and to move the business to a new level.
Quality 2: A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there
– David Gergen
Great leaders access and develop the best in people: they inspire teams and individuals to achieve new levels of performance and to achieve personal career goals. Through inspiring stories and personal connection, leaders motivate and energise their teams. The best leaders put in place a structure that allows for employee personal development so they can acquire the necessary skills and attitudes to move the company forward in line with the leader’s vision.
Quality 3: Give whatever you are doing and whoever you are with the gift of your attention
– Jim Rohn
Great leaders take the time to listen to, and connect emotionally with people at all levels. They demonstrate that they understand and empathise with people’s concerns, values, priorities and aspirations. They take these into account when making decisions and set out to promote an organisation in which people feel heard, empowered, and cared about. They are actively engaged in finding out what followers want and need to do their best work.
Quality 4: People do not follow uncommitted leaders. Commitment can be displayed in a full range of matters to include the work hours you choose to maintain, how you work to improve your abilities, or what you do for your fellow workers at personal sacrifice
– Stephen Gregg, Chairman and CEO of Ethix Corp
The best leaders show passion, commitment and dedication. They put the business first and are willing to make personal sacrifices to achieve group goals that they highly value. They display self-discipline and unselfishness. Actions such as these earn leaders the trust, respect and admiration of others.
Quality 5: If you want to build a ship, don’t herd people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
There is no doubt that being able to inspire others through rational arguments and explanation is key, but so too is being able to connect emotionally. Leaders must be able to articulate their vision in such a way that people can see, feel, hear and buy into it and want to help to create it. Leadership involves engaging the whole person and not just a small part of them.
Quality 6: Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others
– Jack Welch
History is littered with examples of great leaders where they brought out the best in others. In business, leaders need to create an organisational culture in which the strengths and potential of everyone is valued and recognised. It needs a culture where there is flexibility to motivate different types of people and allow them to thrive and develop in different ways. Great leaders have a clear vision of the diverse skills that teams need to thrive and succeed and where there is a plan to invest in people helping them to grow; where there is a plan to reward people and where barriers to growth are removed.
The truth is that leadership is more than a set of procedures and activities. It is an expression of the type of person the leader fundamentally is at heart. To become a great leader, it is necessary for the leader to know and connect with their higher purpose; believe in it passionately; and to live it every day.
Leaders need to develop their abilities to empathise, to be open and show compassion as well as demonstrating both drive and determination. They need to be committed to nurturing the welfare and commanding the trust of those who they want to lead.
To conclude, leadership is about inspiration of both oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences and not processes and systems. Leadership is not a formula or a programme; it is an attitude of mind and not a routine; and it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts, feelings, needs and emotions of others.