Good leadership is one thing that most of our leaders never offer. Statistics claim that over 40% of people in leadership positions are not meant to be there. The same happens in our companies. However, there are some qualities that define a good leader, and there are ways to develop your leadership skills.
The first area that we look at is that of Personal Attributes. This is a blend of knowledge, expertise, and competencies, encapsulated in the approach, the behavior, of the leader. In organizations of all sizes and in all sectors, public and private, these characteristics are key to effective leadership. The essential personal attributes are as follows.
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1- A good leader should be a teacher
He or she should teach those below him the tricks and tips on how to succeed. However, one can not teach the rest if he himself does not do well. In that case, a good leader should also be a performer. Never teach water and drink wine; practice whatever you preach. Find ways of sharing your secrets of success. Tell your team what it is that made you reach the leadership position you are in. One can even open up a blog that will act as an interface between you and the rest. Encourage them and let them know that you are behind them through it all.
2- Behaving Ethically
Learning about the ethical issues and concerns that impact on your business sector increase your leadership skills. Adopting a balanced, open-minded approach to the ethical concerns of others. Considering the ethical issues and implications of all personnel actions and organizational activity. Raising and discussing ethical issues before proposing or agreeing to decisions. Resisting pressures from the organization or its partners to achieve objectives by unethical means.
3- Thinking Strategically
Learning and understanding how the different functions, physical divisions, and layers of the organization work together. Understand the complexities and the changes happening in the external environment, and considering how the organization can best respond to these. These are an important point of leadership.
Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and the opportunities and threats facing it. Be able to understand how the strategic objectives are influenced by all the current and forecast influences that will impact on the organization. Understanding that the operational objectives and targets must be in line with and support the strategic objectives of the organization. Being aware of and responding to the behavior of current and potential competitors.
4- Supporting Corporate Goals
By helping to create and communicate a vision which can be understood and supported by people at all levels. Helping others to understand and contribute to the strategic goals. Giving visible personal support to the strategic direction and specific goals set by the organization.
5- A Leader Communicate Effectively
Being responsive to messages and signals from the internal and external environments. Leadership is also about the effective use of communication channels from all levels within the organization. Pro-actively encourage the exchange of information within the organization, and amongst suppliers, customers and partners. Listening to others, including those with opposing views, carefully and thoughtfully. Selecting personal communication styles that are appropriate to the different situations and audiences.
6- Gathering Information
Establishing multiple channels and networks which generate a constant flow of information, from within and outside the organization. Regularly and consistently gathering, analyzing, challenging, and using the information gathered.
7- Making Decisions
A leader must establish a consistent approach to the analysis of information. Drawing on personal experience and knowledge to identify current and potential problems. Consider a range of solutions before selecting the final one. Ensuring that the selected decision is feasible, achievable, and affordable. Considering the impact of the decision on all stakeholders, at all levels, before approving implementation.
8- A leader Develop Effective Teams
Appreciating the contribution of others, at all levels in the organization. A leader ensures that individuals and teams are kept informed of plans, developments, and issues that will affect them. Make sure that individual and team development schemes are given appropriate priority. Providing personal support for the implementation and maintenance of development activities for individuals and teams at all levels.
9- Behaving Assertively
Understanding and responding to personal roles and responsibilities. Adopting a leading role in initiating action and decision making. Taking personal responsibility for decisions and actions. Being properly prepared for involvement in activities and event. Being confident and professional in dealing with change and challenges. Refusing unreasonable demands. Defending and protecting individuals and teams from unfair or discriminatory actions; remaining professional in a manner at all times.
10- Concentrating On Results
Contributing to the establishment of an organizational culture that demands high standards and high levels of performance. Focus on objectives and planned outcomes, at all times. Deal with issues and problems when they arise. Plan and schedule personal work and the work of others in ways which make the best use of available resources. Delegating appropriately. Giving personal attention to critical issues and events.
11- Managing Yourself
Reflecting regularly on personal performance and progress. Pro-actively asking for feedback on personal performance. Changing personal behavior in the light of feedback received. Being responsible for your own personal development needs.
12- A Leader Present a Positive Image
Adopting a leading role in initiating action and decision making. Behave in a professional manner at all times. Being open-minded and responsive to the needs of others. Visibly working towards personal and career development goals. Adopt an ethical approach to all personal and organizational activity. Be supportive to colleagues, and demonstrate fairness and integrity at all times.
These essential attributes are many and difficult to maintain consistently, but they are the attributes needed and expected by our business leaders. The size of the organization, the business sector, whether public or private, is of no consequence.
The leaders of all organizations should be role models for others, be visible champions of high standards of professional and ethical behavior. Be leaders who others in their organizations can be proud of, and be leaders that competitors are envious of.
Not many of these characteristics are imbued in our leaders by default. They have to be learned, can be learned, and should then be continuously developed and enhanced. With these personal attributes in place, and being demonstrated in behavior and actions, business leaders will be more effective and more successful.