Leadership today is a complex process. It is no longer enough to set a compelling vision and hope that your team will follow you. In my experience effective leadership is:
- getting others to perform at the best
- letting them know their key qualities and the value of their contribution
- helping them grow personally and professionally.
Drs Lyman Steil and Richard Bommelje, authors of ‘Listening Leaders’ describe 5 important and universal facts about leadership.
#1 Leadership is relational and positional. Despite the fact that individuals are promoted and appointed to leadership, managerial or supervisory roles, it does not mean they will automatically and effectively lead others. The essential factor is the quality of the connected relationship between the leader and followers.
#2 Leadership is about ‘being’ not just knowing and ‘doing’. Effective leaders ‘walk their talk’ and have a true desire to serve, help, guide and teach others. Leaders who are effective for a sustained period have built a solid foundation and definition on what leadership means to them. They have a personal mission that is larger than themselves.
#3 Leaders have committed followers. One of the great tests of effective leadership is the extent to which others follow them because they want to rather than because they have to. Some leaders fall into the trap of thinking they have followers when in fact they have compliant employees. The choice to follow is what defines effective leadership.
#4 Leaders are learners. Learning comes in several forms. Effective leaders optimise their ability and commitment to continuously engage in the learning process. They stretch themselves and grow in the process. They act as role models for others when doing so. The other factor that differentiates effective leaders is that they extend their learning through a constant commitment to teach others. As they learn, they teach, as they teach, they learn. As they learn and teach, they lead.
# 5 Leaders are listeners. Effective leaders understand that all followers need to and expect to be listened to. In fact all followers are looking for the listening leaders of their dreams. Effective leaders know that listening is the best way to learn about the true needs, expectations and desires of their followers. Therefore effective leaders make a habit and a commitment to being excellent listeners.
As you reflect on your own leadership, what will you stop, start or continue to be or do to become even more effective?