5 Vital Characteristics of Effective Leadership
We live in the digital age. Today, tools and processes are ruling the workplace and humans play second fiddle to software and the internet. I strongly believe that technology is an enabler for becoming more efficient; it is not a replacement. In an organization, it is the people who make things happen. Leadership is what keeps the people motivated and focussed on the end goal.
Leadership is about taking learning a few levels higher
The transition from being an individual contributor to a leader is a tough one, as it needs a significant change in perspective. It should ideally be viewed as a start of a new journey and not as having arrived. Leaders have a greater responsibility towards building and disseminating knowledge across the hierarchy. So if anything they need to broaden their horizons and develop a greater appetite for learning newer skills, be it functional, technical or soft skills.
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. – Humble in learning – John F. Kennedy
Lead by example
Substance is what separates the leaders from the managers. Be it the army, the production line or the office floor, leaders who roll up their sleeves and get into the action themselves are the ones that get the job done. Respect cannot be bought, it needs to be earned. Leaders, therefore, need to be cognizant of the fact that exerting authority is not the best way to earn respect. They need to walk the line in front of the team, guiding them to the finish line, every minute of every day.
You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case. —Ken Kesey
Build a good work culture
With so much focus on getting the work done and meeting top line and bottom line targets, companies sometimes tend to put culture on the backburner. History will tell you ignoring culture has never worked out well for companies. Culture is that invisible glue that binds people, tools, and business objectives together. Leaders have a huge role to play in building and promoting a healthy work culture. Bill and Dave at HP, Jack Welch at GE, Richard Branson at Virgin group and Steve Jobs at Apple are just a few of the many leaders who have built billion dollar enterprises with culture as the backbone.
Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far – Theodore Roosevelt
As you grow, take others up with you
It is in the nature of power to breed competition and insecurity. True leaders know better than that. It’s simple really; a leader’s success depends on the success of the people that work with him/her. What better way to do that than to hire people who are better than you. Leaders are selfless when it comes to nurturing talent and giving people opportunities to grow. They, in turn, will do the same for others along the way.
I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. —Ralph Nader
Let’s face it; the workplace is not always fun and frolic. Some days are worse than the others. Leaders need to have the ability to put up a brave front in the face of adversity. The key is to learn from failure and keep those lessons handy for the future. Mindfulness helps leaders build a level of objectivity about situations and people relations and achieve the right balance. Meditation, Yoga, and Exercise are few the many ways one could adopt mindfulness as a way of life.
The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly. —Jim Rohn
One of the dictionary synonyms of manage is “cope”. In the organizational parlance, coping with a project or work when you have people looking up to you is just not enough. One needs to look beyond hierarchical aspirations and mundane fixations to evolve into a true leader, one that places purpose before oneself.