Leadership. A powerful, important, and influential word. A word in the professional sense, often used to describe how to manage people. It also applies to how organizations are run. It is strategic, tactical, and situational. Consequently, it can be the defining factor in the degree of success a company, team or individual can have. I have been fortunate enough to be in a position of leadership many times, and I found it to be one of the most rewarding, challenging, and truly satisfying experiences of my professional career.
So what makes a leader GREAT? Not an easy question to answer, but for me a few things come to mind. First and foremost, I believe it is essential to be authentic. One can't lead effectively, if he or she is not true to him or herself - a part of who you are will naturally come out when you try and influence people , activities or events. So let it! Be natural in whatever way you are trying to lead. This doesn't mean that you won't have to do something that you are uncomfortable with, because you will - just remember who you are when doing so.
The next thing that comes to mind is versatility - being a leader, especially when leading large scale teams, requires you to be all things to all people. Simply put being able to adjust your leadership style, without being insincere, is a crucial requirement to have success. Many of the adjustments you make will be specific to the members of your team. Supporting someone who is high energy, outgoing, and naturally interactive is far different from the introvert who simply wants to do great work with little engagement.
A great tool that I found really helps make adjustments to your leadership style is DISC - a personality profiling tool purchased by many companies to better understand how their employees tick. It delves deep into how a person prefers to interact with people, and identifies how he or she best fits into a given culture. As a compliment to assessing fit, it is a terrific tool! (And no, I am not being paid by DISC to promote them! LOL)
A third critical piece of being a great leader is attitude. Quite frankly, I believe it is the most important aspect of effective leadership. How you carry yourself, the way in which you deal with difficult situations, and most importantly how you choose to treat people will dictate your success. Having the right attitude sets the tone for who you are, and how you will be perceived. And remember perception is reality - as a Leader, each and every action you take is carefully monitored - keep that in mind.
Another key leadership quality is modesty. This is one of the more difficult attributes to embrace, and is often elusive. From my standpoint, it is only natural to want to celebrate success, especially when it happens often. The corporate landscape is especially competitive, and the pressure to succeed is immense - this only increases with increasing responsibilities - mostly because the competition for more Senior leadership roles (Director and above) is fierce. So celebrate but do so by deflecting recognition off of yourself and onto those you support. This is an art and to do sincerely will substantially increase your likeability.
Let's face it: when broken down, most of us want to LIKE our boss. He or she is someone we want to care about us and our work, as well as offer help when we need it. Moreover, if we demonstrate the competencies required for our jobs, we want the freedom to make decisions, and run our part of the business. That doesn't mean we may not flinch when we don't do well and we hear about it, but I believe if provided with the above essentials, we have a good chance to work well with our boss - add a bit of natural chemistry, and great things are ahead!
I am only scratching the surface on leadership. Enough books have been written on the subject to suggest how complex a subject leadership really is. My intent is simply to highlight a few attributes that have worked for me, and moreover those I truly believe in. This also doesn't imply that I was always an effective leader, because I wasn't - I can say though that my greatest professional lessons came from the mistakes I made while leading.
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