Skills of great leaders- your checklist
Have you ever wondered what it really takes to become a leader?
Consider the checklist below as a starting point for your leadership evolution: use what is immediately beneficial, make a note of what seems to hold promise, and leave the rest to evolve in the future.
Deciding to step up and lead
At some point, at some level of consciousness, leaders decide that they want to influence the course of future events – dreaming of something bigger and better. Making such a decision is a crucial point. It reinforces the tenacity often required in leadership to accomplish things that can be simple, yet at the same time hard to do.
Challenging the status quo
Leaders go first. They show courage and pave the way. Good managers maintain the status quo; good leaders challenge it. To paraphrase the words of Peter F. Drucker, while managers concentrate on doing things right, leaders focus on doing the right things.
Leaders engage people in their vision and confirm that they have ‘bought in’. Advertising genius David Ogilvy preferred a round meeting table when presenting a vision for this very reason – he wanted to see the ‘light of conviction’ in the eyes of even the most junior staff.
Things get done through people. Real unity comes from real relationships. Fruitful collaboration are fostered by example, with authenticity, honesty, integrity, great communication, and support for actions that move toward your shared vision - but the attempted use of power, authority or coercion is at best a short-term measure that dies when the leader does.
Taking responsibility and staying accountable
Making real progress towards a vision may involve making some hard decisions, some mistakes or both. Accepting this, striving and being accountable for the best decision you can make under the circumstances and recognising your errors are all part of being a leader. As President Harry S. Truman said, “the buck stops here”.
Behavioural flexibility and emotional intelligence
Different situations call for different styles and responses, including the ability to understand and manage emotional responses (see our article on emotional intelligence for more information), both for yourself and others. Be prepared to adjust how you lead, in order to accomplish your leadership goals. Rigidity limits your circle of influence.
Developing yourself and others (continuous learning)
At both a personal and professional level, growth and learning is desirable and necessary for both leaders and followers. For great leaders, continuous learning through reflection, review, insight, feedback, reading, coaching, and active development are not just fostered and encouraged, but actively planned.
Personal qualities such as motivation, energy, tenacity, initiative, honesty, integrity, self-confidence and competence are not sufficient for great leadership in their own right. Qualities like these may facilitate leadership, but leadership starts with the decision TO STEP UP, the vision and the capacity to build authentic relationships.
How do YOU shape up?
If this sounds overwhelming, take heart – there are good reasons for it, and also good solutions. Leaders do a lot. Expectations from your followers and your organisation are high. Many of the best leaders also know that in the struggle to make it all turn out right, there is both help and support that they can call on: you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Executive Leadership Coaching and Development from Leadership Evolution is a solution that connects directly with your leadership potential to help you succeed. We can support and assist in your growth towards the best leadership possible, and in continual self-improvement.
At Leadership Evolution, we understand Leadership is a big topic, and for ease of understanding, we have organised leadership development content across three realms. Maybe you can see your potential to improve in one of more of these realms:
- Organisational Leadership – that is taking the organisation in the direction it needs to go – includes topics such as vision, futuring, alignment and structure, managing organisational change, strategy, building organisational values, community and stakeholder engagement, and building teams.
- Personal Mastery – that is, personal leadership skills including communication, interpersonal skills, building relationships, rapport, public speaking, coaching skills, confidence, self/time-management, and emotional intelligence.
- Authenticity – that is, being sublimely in tune with who you are and what you are about, includes internal alignment of goals, values, beliefs and behaviours, deep self-insight, clarity around your life path, generosity, forgiveness, abundance, responsibility and contribution. Being true to all that you can be.
If you have identified one or more points in the list above where you see the opportunity for boosting your leadership performance, then we invite you to discuss them with us. By calling Alison Jardie on 0400 340 171 you’ll benefit from an initial discussion to see how we can work together for the results that you want.