Leading a team or group is a real skill that takes time, thought and dedication. Leadership is the most studied aspect of business and organisation because it is the one overarching topic that makes the difference between success and failure. At times it may seem overwhelmingly complex, but by focusing on some fundamentals you will find that you can lead your team with confidence and skill.The ability of a company's management to make sound decisions and inspire others to perform well. Effective leaders are able to set and achieve challenging goals, to take swift and decisive action even in difficult situations, to outperform their competition, to take calculated risks and to persevere in the face of failure. Strong communication skills, self-confidence, the ability to manage others and a willingness to embrace change also characterize good leaders.
Investopedia(A canadian site devoted to educate youth) explains 'Leadership': Is often overlooked by investors. This may be because it is tough to place a value on qualitative aspects of a company (leadership being one), compared to quantitative metrics, which are commonly tracked and much easier to compare between companies. Individuals with strong leadership skills in the business world often rise to executive positions such as CEO, COO, CFO, president and chairman. (Ref:Created By Own)
Leader vs. Manager: In the leadership development industry, there is a lot of confusion about the relationship between leadership and management. Many people use the terms interchangeably. Others see them as separate, but give different reasons why.Confusion and Mistakes: Most dictionaries suggest leadership and management are quite similar - guiding or controlling a group of people to achieve a goal. Most web articles suggest that leadership and management are different, but offer contradictory reasons, such as: leadership inspires, management plans; leaders praise, managers find fault; leaders ask questions, managers give directions; etc. However, the qualities often ascribed to leadership can also apply to managers. There can be good and bad leaders, and there can be good and bad managers.
'Leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action. Each has its own function and characteristic activities. Both are necessary for success in an increasingly complex and volatile business environment'strong leadership with weak management is no better, and is sometimes actually worse, than the reverse. The real challenge is to combine strong leadership and strong management and use each to balance the other." Often a distinction is made between leadership and management, although sometimes, it would seem, for the sake of it. Individuals cannot simply be classified as either one or the other ' both leadership and management skills are needed for success. At times 'leaders' will need to manage tasks and projects, and 'managers' will need to influence and inspire people. Managers are not confined to management and leaders are not restricted to leadership - the critical issue is about getting the right balance for the job you do.Management is generally seen to involve overseeing day-to-day operations, accomplishing goals and achieving tasks, while leadership spans a wider remit that includes influencing and inspiring others, generating ideas and defining a strategy and vision. In the table below you will see a direct comparison between leadership and management activities. An individual can be a great leader, a great manager, or both, but each area requires the mastery of slightly different skills and competencies. (Ref: Abdn.ac.uk)
Ultimate Principles Of Leadership:
. A leader at all times must embody a personal integrity, which is the foundation of leadership. Followers want to believe that their leader is unshakably fair in public and in private.
. A leader applies basically the same principles of leadership regardless of context, but the style of execution is very different in different contexts. That is, execution in leadership is to a great extent about context.
. In normal times, a leader should make faster progress taking opportunities that are ready for change rather than trying to take on areas that the leader knows will be more resisted. Later these resistance areas could be more conducive to change.
. In times of crisis, a leader must step out ahead of the followers and make the difficult decisions without consensus and at times even without adequate explanation in order to resolve the threat to the organization.
. A leader's ultimate goal is to release the human potential of the followers. This will benefit not only the followers but also the overall organization.
. In today's global marketplace, leaders need to foster innovation at all levels of the organization, and that means listening to workers and giving them ample latitude to experiment, make mistakes, and seek new products and services that will compete in a constantly changing competitive landscape.
. A leader's most important and essential attribute is good judgment. This is innate and really can't be taught, although it can be matured with experience.
. A leader must build confidence among the followers. Like teachers, a leader must communicate high expectations and then ensure that followers develop confidence that they can meet those expectations. They can who think they can.
. A leader must give considerable thought and careful execution to the whole area of rational and intangible rewards in relation to motivation of followers. For example, it is critical to the execution of a strategic plan that the compensation system be tied to the plan and not exclusively to earnings per share or the budget.
. Leadership is the main differentiator in performance in most environments. People think that formulas, slick marketing, being first, the latest management tool, programs such as Six Sigma, and so on are the key differentiators in an organization. These other areas matter, but leadership alone is the key differentiator between organizations that succeed and those that fail. (Ref:SafariBooksOnline.com)
Good vs Bad Leaders: Most people are actually somewhere between being a good leader and a bad leader, with the majority uncertain of the connection between their leadership and performance. A deeper knowledge of what good (or great) leadership is will then enable you to break-through and affect change in the performance of your team, organization or company like never before. How does an employee experience leadership? They experience it through the support provided by management and the quality of this support dictates the quality of their work. The support an employee uses comes in two forms: Tangible and Intangible.
Tangible support consists of training, tools, material, parts, discipline, direction, procedures, rules, technical advice, documentation, information, planning, etc.
Intangible support consists of feelings like confidence, morale, trust, respect, relatedness (or purpose), autonomy, ownership, engagement and empowerment.
Providing that support may or may not be clear to you, as the boss, but it is clear to whomever you manage, the majority of whom are followers.
In order to produce the absolute best products and services in the marketplace, all employees must treat their work and their customers with great respect and care. Everyone knows this. It follows then that good leadership requires treating employees with great respect and care ' the better the respect and caring, the better the outcome.
Remember this is a Natural Law (inexorible, inescapable). Treat employees as if they are very important and valuable and you will cause them to feel and become this way. They will then treat their work, customers, peers and management this way. They will follow your lead.
What then characterizes good (or great!) leadership?
Listening to your employees including subordinate managers/bosses ' addressing their complaints, suggestions, concerns, and personal issues at work.
Coaching people when necessary to raise them to a higher standard.
Allowing everyone to put in their two cents.
Trusting them to do the work.
Not giving orders or setting visions, goals and objectives, but instead soliciting this from them so that everyone is fully involved in how the company will be successful.
Providing direction when needed to ensure that everyone is on the same page (the one they devised). A good leader communicates the vision that was set by all. If it is a vision of little interest, then another one must be found.
Every person wants to be heard and respected. Everyone has something to contribute. Listening and responding respectfully makes it worthwhile for employees to apply 100% of their brainpower on their work thus unleashing their full potential of creativity, innovation and productivity and making them highly motivated, committed and productive. All of this gives them very high morale, enables them to take great pride in their work and then they will literally love to come to work. Good leadership multiplies whatever creativity, innovation and productivity top management has by however many employees they have.
Bad leadership is characterized by attempting to control employees through orders, policies, rules, goals, targets, reports, visions, bureaucracy, and changes all designed to almost force employees to work and to create and deliver what management considers to be satisfactory products and services. In this mode, management on its own decides what to do, when to do it, and how to do it and listens only perfunctorily, if they listen at all, to what employees have to say.
What characterizes bad leadership?
Dishing out orders, policies, rules, goals, targets, reports, visions and changes to force employees to work the way management believes it should be done.
Failing to listen or only perfunctorily listening to complaints and suggestions.
Trying to motivate employees.
Exhibiting the 'Do as I say, not as I do' mentality
Providing inadequate support
Treating employees as if they don't want to do a better job, don't care about their work, don't want to accept responsibility, or don't really want to work.
Treating them as if they are lucky to have a job
Being afraid to discipline and never disciplining anyone
Staying in your office or in meetings at your level or above
Us versus them mentality''Why aren't they performing better''? 'What's wrong with that person? Why don't they know their job? They should know their job.'
These actions or inactions are bad because they lead employees to believe that management disrespects them and does not care a whit for them. It also puts employees in the state of having to guess what management wants and management must be right about everything because no one else is allowed to make decisions. Bad leadership shuts off the natural creativity, innovation, and productivity of each employee and slowly but surely demotivates and demoralizes them. With the 'I know better than you' and the 'Be quiet and listen to me' mentality often projected from management, the majority will act like robots waiting for instructions, even if that is not what management intended.
Most bad leadership is the result of a top-down, command and control style of management, where the employee is rarely if ever listened to. This style is prevelant in the workplace and ignores every employee's basic need to be heard and to be respected. It also results in a knowledge barrier and top management becoming ignorant of what is really going on in the workplace and the marketplace, which in turn makes their directives misguided at best and irrelevant at worst. (Ref:Bensimonton.com)
Unconventional Behaviour Of Inspiring Leaders:
There are very few great managers. And even fewer great leaders. Making your team happy by displaying behaviors that are expected from you as a manager is hard. But it is even harder to inspire people to follow you, especially if you don't have direct authority over them.
Leaders are not always perfect. And, sometimes, they are downright quirky. But they display a set of behaviors that make them admired and loved. Let's look at some of the rare ones.
Play Devil's Advocate:
Have you ever seen a leader who continuously pushes you to look deeper and challenges status quo by regularly and passionately taking the other side of the argument, even if s(he) agrees with your point of view? My guess is your answer is no. Playing devil's advocate and ferociously challenging your assumptions works well in scientific experiments, but we rarely see it in business.
Great leaders play the game of 10 'why'?s, asking the question over and over again to test their understanding of the underlying strategy. They defend the opposite point of view just to explore what else their teams forgot to uncover that may be critical to their mission or a project.It is easy to think that we are right, it soothes our egos. But it takes courage to stand up to and challenge your own experiences, knowledge, ideas.
Take the blame:
If there is a blame to be had, great leaders take it on. If there is a credit to be given, they give it away to others. Granted, it's a very rare behavior, but the one that truly creates a following. Exceptional leaders protect their teams and they are humble when it comes to owning up to the accomplishments.
Couldn't care less about conventional wisdom:
The more you say 'it's never been done' before, the more excited they get about changing that fact. And they build the teams around them that never take no for an answer. It's hard to manage a team of rebels, but that's exactly what's needed to change the norm, to challenge the old, and invent the new.
And they don't care about the failures, because they know that the only thing that matters is their response to those failures. Failures teach. Circumstances change. Pioneers stumble while shaping the path for others. And that's okay.
Have you ever been in a meeting when the most senior executive in the room have not spoken a word during the whole meeting? And I don't mean because (s)he would be on a laptop or a mobile phone doing email. No, rather sitting in the room intently listening to the very important strategic discussion. No? Well, I have. And I have to tell you ' it is both a little creepy and awe-inspiring at the same time.
Malcom Forbes once said: 'The art of conversation lies in listening.' Some of the best leaders make it a point to not have their opinions heard right off the bat, but rather sit back and truly listen to what their teams have to say, maybe occasionally asking a question or two. You can get some amazing insights and inspire some great ideas just by sitting there and not contradicting (or agreeing, for that matter) with the opinions of others. Those leaders tell me that it is very hard to do, but tremendously rewarding to exercise this every now and then.
Intentionally seek diversity:
We've all seen managers surround themselves with 'yes' people. We've all seen favoritism in our careers ' after all, it is human nature to like those that look/speak/dress like us. But exceptional leaders go outside of their comfort zones in recruiting their teams, they intentionally seek diversity of opinions/ages/genders/perspectives/experiences. They don't want to build an army of 'yes' men and women, they want to innovate and evolve. And one can't do that without the benefits of diversity.
George S. Patton said, 'If everyone is thinking the same, then someone isn't thinking.' That's something true leaders try to avoid by building and developing diverse teams.
Great leaders are also great innovators. And they know that curiosity and naivet?? are critical conditions of innovation. They are humble enough to accept if they don't know something and smart enough to constantly learn throughout their career.
But they are also sharp enough to know that times change and that no one person can know everything. They ask 'why'? and 'why not'? constantly, and are always open to reverse mentorship with younger generations realizing that there are some things younger professionals are just smarter about.
Understanding how critical it is to sometimes disconnect and reflect, extraordinary leaders will disappear for a while. They will do something else, change their routine, and learn something absolutely new outside of their professional interests. They are masters of creating white space in which creativity thrives. Not only that, they are masters of knowing their limits and when their energy levels need recharging to continue to operate successfully long-term.
What are the rare behaviors you see remarkable leaders display? (Ref: Forbes.com)
Historic Referrence Of The Noble Leader:
Nelson Mandela: Nelson Mandela's life story has long since become a legend, one that transcends borders, race, language, or culture. His leadership truly belongs to the world.
It would be absurd--let alone disrespectful to Mandela's achievements--to suggest that the issues you face as a business leader are as grave as apartheid, or that the stresses you encounter compare with his decades of imprisonment. Still, Mandela's decisions at key points in his career do hold lessons for everyone who aspires to be a great leader.
1985: Turning down Botha's offer of conditional amnesty
In a 1985 speech to the nation, pro-apartheid President F. W. Botha offered Mandela freedom if he renounced violence and other illegal activity. The President tried to shift the blame for imprisonment to Mandela himself: after all, he was now free to go, provided he would be law abiding. Mandela did not fall for this transparent ploy. Yes, he very much desired freedom after decades of hard labor and confinement in a small cell. But he also felt it would betray his principles, his leadership and the ANC's long struggle. Here is how Mandela replied, in part, to President Botha's disingenuous offer:
'What freedom am I being offered while the organization of the people remains banned?.... What freedom am I being offered if I must ask permission to live in an urban area?.... Only free men can negotiate. Prisoners cannot enter into contracts.'
1993: Finding a way to make peace in the wake of Chris Hani's assasination
The second strategic decision occurred shortly after Mandela became a free man but before he was elected President in 1994. The trigger was the 1993 assassination of Chris Hani, a popular black leader fighting for equal rights. Hani was shot in cold blood by a right-wing white extremist when stepping out of his car. The killer was identified by a white woman, who turned him in. The assasination ignited widespread fury and triggered huge demonstrations. Many blacks wanted revenge, and the atmosphere was ripe for looting, violence and mayhem. Recently out of prison, Mandela rose to the occasion and appealed for calm. Here is part of what he said:
"Tonight, I am reaching out to every single South African, black and white, from the very depths of my being. A white man, full of prejudice and hate, came to our country and committed a deed so foul that our whole nation now teeters on the brink of disaster. A white woman, of Afrikaner origin, risked her life so that we may know and bring to justice, this assassin. The cold-blooded murder of Chris Hani has sent shock waves throughout the country and the world'.. Now is the time for all South Africans to stand together against those who, from any quarter, wish to destroy what Chris Hani gave his life for - the freedom of all of us."
1994: Refusing to stand for a second term as president
His third strategic decision occurred after his election as president: He decided early in his first term not to stand for a second, although two were possible under the constitution. This was a remarkable gesture in a continent where leaders tend to seek maximum power (such as Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe). Mandela knew that his speech would be watched by about a billion people on television around the world, and he wanted to signal clearly that he was pledged to democracy and that he represented all the people of his country, regardless of color. The most famous lines of this landmark speech are inscribed in stone on Robben Island. Here is part of what he said:
'We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discriminations. Never, never and never again shall this beautiful land experience the oppression of one by another'.
Mandela's extraordinary achievement was to encourage racial harmony, forgiveness without forgetting, power sharing, and a strong focus on the future, not the past. As a master of symbolism, Mandela supported his strategy by being magnanimous towards his former enemies. Mandela passed away December 5th, 2013 at the age of 95.
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