Last week I was reading an article about ’employees feeling “actively threatened” by their bosses’ behaviour’ and I started thinking about the importance of leadership not only in business but also with reference to the current political situation – for me leaders set the tone and culture of any business or organisation, good or bad.
So what is leadership?
I have worked with many people in alleged leadership capacities over the years, some good, some not so good, and some quite frankly awful. For me successful leadership has one common denominator, it is not vision, ego or even dogmatic determination to pursue change, but an ability to bring people together to embrace change.
Visions are important, especially where they highlight not the reality of the current situation but have an emphasis on an exciting dynamic future, to get this early step right is critical. The problem comes when the vision is driven by personal insecurity or ego, as opposed facts and evidence. Once ego and personal dogma becomes the driver for change, failure is usually the result.
Why does leadership matter?
As noted above leaders drive change and develop cultures. They are the people others look to for stability, job satisfaction and personal security, to this extent positive leadership matters. Where a leader doggedly strives for what they want without the backing of their people, the situation and their position is untenable – resulting in instability, resentment and confusion.
What are the qualities for successful leadership?
I have only worked for one or two people I would describe as successful leaders, the overwhelming quality that gained ‘buy in’ was that they appeared human. No airs or graces, rather an ability to engage, inspire and motivate on a personal level. They were genuinely positive, thoughtful and respected the people they worked with.
Many so called leaders make a pseudo case for change based on their own opinion and the force these, often personal views onto others for their own glory. For me, the real enemies of successful leadership have to be: ego, arrogance and manipulation – people see straight through these and what is left is compliance (usually through fear) and limited commitment.
So what are the learning points here, for me it is simple:
- A dynamic Vision needs to be developed for any business.
- The Vision should be developed via people engagement, hard facts and a dose of reality.
- Ego and self-determination should not be tolerated.
- Vision drives strategy, which in turn drives positive change.
- Successful leaders should make time for their people, they need to respect, support and actively engage them.
- Concerns should be listened to and the solutions should be creative.
- Personal belief should not simply be imposed; instead a culture of accountability must be developed and promoted throughout the business.
- Teams need to be challenged, allowed to grow and thrive.
- Openness, fairness and approachability are essential ingredients for success.
- Manipulation and sycophants must be avoided at all costs.
To learn more about leadership and how to develop a ‘strategic thinking’ approach to your business check out the following Acet People training programmes: Sales strategy, Management Development Programme or The Essential Manager – Reborn