Effective leadership is uncommon. Organizations tend to foster a culture that recruits and promotes on the basis of technical skills while undervaluing people skills. These same organizations compound the problem by rewarding the wrong individuals with more power, resources, and responsibility. They frequently reward individuals who are technical superstars but interpersonal underachievers. As these individuals assume senior leadership roles, they create an organization in their own image. It should not be surprising that all of these organizational forces create an environment that lacks effective leadership and is more about politics and retaining power than it is about strategic direction.
What Do Effective Leaders Do?
Effective Leaders See The Potential in People – Effective leaders first view people as valuable assets rather than problems. Leaders look for the natural strengths that their team members possess and they align what they need with those talents. When team members falter in a role, the leaders’ first thoughts are how to help the team members succeed–not how to get rid of them. They start from the perspective of value. They offer training and development, mentoring and stretch assignments to help these team members succeed. They remove organizational obstacles that hinder performance. Ultimately, they get team members in the right roles where the team members can both excel and help the leader fulfill their organizational goals.
Effective Leaders Experiment – Effective leaders are about results–positive outcomes. They challenge the routine and they look for better ways to accomplish strategic goals. They adjust their approach and they recognize that not every problem needs a complete overhaul. They keep reinvention alive in the organization by making small improvements on what already exists, eliminating what is no longer needed, and spearheading bold new initiatives as necessary. They use experimentation to remain viable!
Effective Leaders have the Courage to Fail – There is a misconception that leaders are fearless, however, effective leaders are human like everyone else and they experience fear. In fact, a wise man knows both what and when to fear. Leaders are just more emotionally intelligent about how they deal with any fears that they have. They are not paralyzed by their fear. They confront it and move on to accomplish their goals. They lead with credibility.
Effective Leaders Have a Clear Vision of a Desirable Future – Effective leaders are very clear about their goals! They have a clear vision of “what needs to be done.” They see the big picture and they are unrelenting in their pursuit of it.
Effective Leaders are Effective Communicators – Effective leaders send clear messages and their words to unite their organization around a common purpose. Business leaders do this when they have a clear market direction, non-profit leaders do this when they rally volunteers to serve a difficult cause, and coaches do this when they inspire a team to fight on in the face of defeat.
Effective Leaders Are Ethical – Leadership must also include ethics if it is to be effective. The truth is that there are some people with organizational power who communicate clearly, take risks, see the possibilities in people, and they have clear goals of what they want to accomplish – and are not ethical. These leaders inspire other people to follow them in the wrong direction often for the leaders’ self interests. Leadership without ethics is not effective.
Effective leadership includes trying new approaches, seeing new possibilities, taking calculated risks, communicating clearly, asking the right questions and listening, and inspiring others to follow. Effective leaders are not selfish or hypocritical. Whether an individual is leading an organization, a social group or a family, effective leaders follow the same standards they impose on everyone else and they serve the greater good, not their own.
Leaders with the most impact are those who can build and successfully manage great teams. Every day, we help our clients and colleagues achieve their highest levels of professional presence and personal effectiveness. That includes everyone on the ladder, from company presidents to project managers, to staff members. Contact us at 800-282-3374 to find out how we can help you impact your own productivity and the productivity of your entire organization.