Monday, 29 October 2012
Leadership – 9 imperatives to success.
What makes a good leader? What are the leadership qualities that are most relevant to the current socio-economic and socio-political context? And what are qualities that are essential in a leader independent of the era, geography, culture, organization and the teams they lead?
The efficacy of a list of leadership qualities and whether they stand their ground on any test is when you take any of the qualities out and the success of the leader is decidedly questionable. Here’s a handy list of 9 leadership tips that you would find everywhere if you didn’t look for it but may not come across searching…
1. Leadership by command.
You cannot demand respect as a leader, you need to command respect. And that does not come from your business card, the office you occupy or the title of your role. It comes from consistently appealing to the values that drive people to work together and achieve common goals. It comes from walking the talk and delivering on the promises.
2. Leadership on demand.
Successful leaders are seldom the ones who breathe down the necks of their teams. They are usually the ones that provide you with the independence and space to operate by yourself and are available to offer advice when sought.
3. Leadership from the high moral ground.
Integrity, honesty and impartiality are imperatives in any role and in every walk of life. It is even more important as a leadership quality since a leader cannot effectively drive organizational behavior without being a practitioner of what one expects from the organization.
4. Leadership is architecture and not management.
True leaders shape organizations, they do not run them. They build and mould teams, not structure and supervise them. They create ecosystems for success, not plans for wins. They inspire and invigorate, not control and investigate. They create dreams, vision and strategy to achieve them
5. Leadership through reciprocal trust.
A leader, who cannot trust others, does not trust oneself. Plain and simple. If a leader has exercised the choice of putting folks (s)he thought were right for the task in hand and then is immersed in doubt about those choices, the leader lacks self-confidence and trust in one’s own ability. And nor do people find such a leader trustworthy.
6. Leadership is exploratory.
Leaders do not have all the answers. They know it. They also know that they are not leaders because they know all the answers. They are so because they know how to find the answers. They are so because they can navigate the course till the answers are all found. They have the veracity to see reality for what it is, they have the spark to seek and explore, they have the strength and spirit to endure and the urge and will to conquer.
7. Leadership is secure in team’s greater skills and their empowerment.
Success of leadership is a greater factor of the combined strength of the entire team being led and its output than the individual brilliance of the leader. Successful leaders build teams with individuals potentially stronger than themselves (and are secure in doing so), ensure synergies that make the team stronger than the sum of strengths of individuals in it, share any knowledge they may have that could fill gaps or enhance the team’s potential, and believe in sharing the outcome with their teams.
8. Leadership is being decisive.
Leadership, by nature, is a direction-loaded function. If the choice were obvious, it would not be a choice anymore. Leadership is most often summoned at the precipice or the juncture where the path forward is not obvious. The ability to decide, decide fast and a later vindication of the decision made, is what differentiates a good leader from the average one. When presented with all the data required to make a decision, any competent person would make the cut. It is in the absence of the complete picture, when the data does not lend itself to the decision and when delay means denial and denial means death (okay, agreed, that was dramatic!), when intuition takes preeminence in the making of a decision, that the good leader comes into one’s own.
9. Leadership touches, impacts and, at times, transforms lives.
I am yet to come across a good leader, whose purpose is not strong by itself to be appealing to the people they lead. I am also yet to come across successful teams that are not bound together by anything beyond the immediate goals of the teams; or for that matter, individuals in a team that are inspired only by professional skills of their leaders. I have not seen customers that cannot appreciate a good leader conceiving or designing a product or service for the value its usage brings to the customer’s business rather than all the features stuffed into it. Leadership in its true sense leaves the person experiencing it, touched, impacted and changed; for the better.
It is not as if you would not find leaders or their teams tasting success in the absence of one, many or all of these aspects of leadership. The unfortunate point is, the success in such cases, are despite the leadership than because of it!