Whether it’s originated in our History or Culture, whether it’s from watching television or from frequenting our friends and family, we all have a clear picture in our minds of what great leadership is or should be. We also have in mind which competencies and qualities are ideally associated to great leadership.
Wondering if that picture you nurture in your mind coincides with reality and what makes leadership so important?
What is great leadership?
Leadership is the ability to wheel power, to influence people positively in order to be successful, to bring like-minded individuals together towards a common goal or vision and to translate that vision into reality.
Influence allows leaders to gain consistent support for their views and opinions while building relationships with other individuals, groups or organization on a daily basis. It also helps leaders improve teamwork, and gain more credibility, and respect.
Furthermore, influence is used to win others over, to persuade and convince without having to subject anyone to manipulation, force, command or control. It consists in a core competency in today’s workplace.
Why is leadership important?
Not everyone is a leader. Not everyone is given an opportunity to lead or not everyone has made the conscious decision to lead. Not everyone wants to be a leader because leadership requires time, knowledge, skills and emotional intelligence. Some people are actually leaders but not in all aspects of their lives. At last, others leaders emerge later in life.
Moreover, the importance for leadership and the motivation for leadership go hand in hand. Everybody is motivated differently by leadership: you can be motivated by a search for prestige, status, respect, deference, money, power, an increase in power of decision, a will to make the world a better place by servicing others, a strong desire to embody a vision and to bring that vision into reality.
In addition, without great leadership, chaos flares up.
The key competencies for great leadership
I believe that the nine competencies below are the foundation of great contemporaneous leadership:
- Demonstrating integrity and instilling trust in employees. Leaders must be capable of being responsible and accountable, of becoming an exemplar of wanted behaviors and values, treating others with respect, of doing the right thing, of walking the walk and walking the talk. According to Warren Bennis, “there is no difference between becoming an effective leader and becoming a fully integrated human being”.
- Learning continuously to be able to deal with personal and organizational complexities, to grow and become more effective, and finally to challenge the status quo.
- Share vision to inspire has purpose. A vision is what you want to create, to embody and achieve as a leader. The leader’s vision has everything to do with his or her purpose and is often reflected in his or her behavior.
- Thinking and acting innovation. Remarkable leaders know how to champion, plan and implement change successfully. .
- Possessing good decision-making skills. Leaders are able to identify problems and find solutions, and measure the outcome of those solutions.
- Maintaining strong communication skills. Leaders must be good speakers as well as good and active listeners. Communication skills increase the leader’s influence in the workplace. The best way to showcase your communication skills is to:
- delay your speech, analyze your audience by getting to know their background, situation, history, values, enhance your rhetoric and work on the delivery of your speech.
- describe the situation you want to change, its impacts and its solutions.
- ask for other people input by professional courtesy and be open for discussion.
- Developing emotional intelligence. Exceptional leaders get to know themselves before getting to know others, lead themselves before leading others, use their emotions at work but don’t let their emotions use them.
- Building healthy relationships and connecting with your followers. Indeed, outstanding leaders hold your employees to a higher standard, with higher expectations with the belief that their employees can meet them. They also provide feedback, invest in their employees personal strengths, value collaboration and team work in order to connect to your workforce.
- Developing others by mentoring and coaching them in order to sustain high performance employees, to train them for leadership positions and to strengthen employees weaknesses and to help “difficult” employees to fit into the corporate culture. A great leader is a catalyst, facilitator that allow each member of the team to shine. By then, employees commitment and productivity will be increased. Tom Rath and Barry Conchie (2009) said it right in Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow: “Perhaps the ultimate test of a leader is not what you are able to do in the here and now – but instead what continues to grow long after you’re gone.”.
The skills of leaders are transferable to every aspect or role of their lives: they are applicable to their community, neighborhood.
Acquiring all those skills all at once are not realistic: a leader must assess his or her strengths and weaknesses to know which competencies he or she already possess and which competencies to develop first.
Are you currently viewed as a potential leader?
You are viewed as a potential leader if:
- people regularly come to you for advice, for brainstorming or problem solving,
- you are progressively given more responsibility on a project by your boss,
- your boss asks for your opinion on a subject matter before an “above your pay grade” meeting
- or you are included in your coworkers social activities.
If you are not being perceived as a leader, start with these small steps:
- Respect the company’s culture, work protocols and procedures and perform well.
- Offer your help when there is extra work to do in the office. This will show that you are ready to roll up your sleeves for the success of the project, to apply yourself effectively without complaining.
- Volunteer outside of work. This will allow you to test your leadership skills, to inquire whether leadership is made for you or not, to learn new skills and mostly to make mistakes with less consequence to your career.
- Read or write articles about leadership development and take courses to increase your knowledge about leadership.
- Cultivate your strengths and be aware of your weaknesses.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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