Excellent leadership is key to the success of any organization. How to achieve that requires effective communication skills, emotional intelligence, innovative problem-solving skills, decisiveness, authenticity, honesty, and competence. You need to be able to develop trust, respect, and rapport with your people in order for them to embrace and model the culture you want for your organization. That culture is created and demonstrated by you and your leadership team so that the rest of the organization understands your complete commitment to those aims and goals in achievement and behaviours.
In order to achieve all of that one needs to learn those necessary skills. Now, some people are instinctively better at some of these behaviours than others. Either because of their approach to life, possibly their position in their family, jobs that they held in their youth or their personality. However, anyone who wishes to be a better more effective leader can certainly learn those skills and be successful.
Many years ago I took a workshop from the authors of the “Leadership Challenge”: James Kouzes and Barry Posner. It was a wonderful day full of ideas for great leadership. They shared their research on what makes a great leader and we all got the book.
Here is what I learned……..
Leadership is a relationship you build with those you lead and is generally an on-going process. The only way you will be great is if you are an excellent communicator, starting with Active Listening.
If one does not listen well, you can never learn anything and the most important issue is to learn about your team, your customers, and any others that you encounter in the business world. You set the tone for your company so you must “model the way” if you expect others to emulate what you wish to see.
When employees have a clear picture of what is expected of them through their job description and also know how they fit into the big picture of the organization they tend to perform better.
Great leaders have a vision and can articulate that vision with impact and influence to those around them. They listen to their people so that they can get to know them, see their potential and help them to fulfill that potential. They must be supportive, encouraging, and acknowledging. They must be able to clearly impart directions for the responsibilities they expect their people to accomplish and be able to coach them through a job if necessary. When employees have a clear picture of what is expected of them through their job description and also know how they fit into the big picture of the organization they tend to perform better. The more engaged employees are, usually, the happier they are. The happier they are, the more productive, efficient, creative, and even healthier they will be. When this is true you will experience less turn over, fewer sick days and even find that innovation may bring you better ways of doing things.
Great leaders are able to honestly admit their mistakes, be accountable for them and able to fix them. They are not afraid to show their vulnerability when necessary and to work on improving in areas where they can do better. Being self-aware is a key to paying attention to how what we say and do is being perceived by those around us and when we are sensitive to that, we will better able to connect, build, maintain and nurture those relationships and they are very important to the success of the organization.
Obviously, there are several different styles of leadership and some are going to be much more effective than others. The micro-managing, ego-centric leader is going to have a more difficult time getting cooperation than the leader who allows his team to do things autonomously as long as they accomplish the projects as expected and keep to the desired timelines.
When employees feel valued because they are acknowledged for their contributions, offered opportunities to update their current skills and learn new ones, they are more likely to develop an inner purpose or motivation to perform well……this will be a win/win for everyone because when people feel they are doing well, they gain more self-esteem and self-confidence which can also enhance their outcomes. When they are offered the chance to increase their responsibilities because they gained new skills, they will stay engaged and perhaps can even look forward to advancement. This support certainly indicates that the leadership cares about them and wants them to be the best they can be. If you are doing this, why would an employee leave? Actually, that is why they will stay.
If one interviews with a company and learns that most people have been there for many, many years, this speaks well for the culture of the company and makes it a more attractive place to work. On the other hand, if there is constant turnover in a company, this is an indication of something that is not very healthy and likely not a great place to work.
So, if you want your organization to become a place known for its great culture, support, encouragement and valuing of achievements, it is up to you to build that internal architecture, commit to it, and model it. If you are prepared to do that along with the other suggestions explained above, you will surely have a successful long-lasting company that you can be proud of and that will have the reputation as a great place to work.