“If your actions inspire others to dream more,
learn more, do more and become more,
you are a leader”
John Qunicy Adams
With conversations that build trust, allow us to influence others, access personal power and connect with emotion - we have the foundations for leadership.
Who wants to be a leader? Everyone it seems. And there are lots of leadership experts ready to tell us how. I wonder who advised Mandela or Gandhi or Sir Peter Blake? Here is my take on what we need to be a good leader.
- A vision, a destination, somewhere to go. Something that inspires us and can rub off on the people we are going to need to achieve that vision. We need to be bolder in our visions. Recently a Harvard Business Revenue study ranked New Zealand high in competitiveness but low in future orientation. Future wealth needs both. Let’s have the courage to think boldly about the future.
- A firm grip on reality. No journey starts without an accurate understanding of where we are. Sometimes the excitement of the future draws us away from the practical realities of our situation. The biggest obstacle to realizing our future is often not dealing with today.
- A plan that we are prepared to execute. I’ve seen leaders expect to lead by exhortation. “I’ll simply talk the future into happening”. At some point we need to invest in our plan. There are no free lunches. The bigger the investment, the bigger the return!
- A set of behaviours that motivates others. Two broad sets of behaviours are required - a results focus and effective inter-personal skills. At the moment, the work environment looks like this - a tight labour market, changing staff values (Gen X and Y), very competitive markets, and demanding stakeholders. Interpersonal skills are more critical than ever. If our communication isn’t effective – staff and customers will simply get up and walk out. There is a growing body of research suggesting that leaders with constructive inter-personal styles, are significantly more effective than their peers.
If you're not prepared to work on these, forget leadership. Perhaps you could be a celebrity!