In our experience, the secret to a building an effective and abundant leadership inventory in an organisation is assessment based coaching and leadership development. There are no two ways about it. Leadership may partly be inherent but a more powerful and empowering thought is that it is learnt.
Humans have a great capacity to learn new skills. We learn to walk, talk and behave in a way that works for us. Leadership skills too can be developed. In fact, from an organisational perspective, it’s best to start early. Many companies overlook the need to invest in emerging leaders for success.
The recipe for abundant leadership inventory lies in starting early. And if this is so, why is it so often neglected?
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Resting the case on “Leaders are born” is in fact the top reason why organisations do not invest in their people. And since that’s the common paradigm, everyone starts looking to hire those “ready-made” leaders. And the result is an obvious shortage of leadership talent. While I agree some leaders have an inborn aptitude for driving results while taking care of their people, building relationships while driving the bottom line of the business, the truth is that like any other skill, these competencies can be learned, and refined.
Here are those few vital things that make great leaders. If you can be effectively inculcate these, then you have a fair chance of being successful at workplace.
We’ve all experienced a diverse set of supervisors. Some people are so much fun to work with – but not always. They can sometimes be quite fastidious in their ways. But the overall experience is engaging. They create the right environment to work in. Personal and friendly, challenging and competitive, stimulating and structured – a mix of everything together.
As a friend, you can support, guide and compel people to work hard without being obnoxious in your ways. You can quickly transform into a cheerleader in good times and a shoulder to cry on in bad times. You can give constructive feedback like a friend. And most importantly, you genuinely care and take ownership of your team’s success and career.
Remember that people are inherently good. If you treat them as your friend, then you’ll have them on your side.
Feedback all the time
You must learn to close the loop every time. Transactions tend to become open ended in a fast moving environment. People shift from one project to another like flipping their hand. Learnings are lost and everyone gets into the endless loop of making the same mistakes over and over again. In the absence of feedback that is quick, in time and objective, most of us create and believe in stories that suite our own game.
It is your responsibility as a leader to let people know when they’re doing their jobs well. Sharing the good news and not just the bad news on a consistent basis. Inspiring people is not just about encouraging people. It is also about letting them know when people are not doing well.
Make time for people
Leadership is more about aligning people than just creating a vision. As a leader, you could either be engaged, making time for those who make you successful, or be hiding in your lofty tower. Taking interest in your people, spending time on their development and everyday dilemmas is important. By structuring messages, engaging people in two-way dialogues, creating multiple platforms for conversations is important. Make rituals that make conversations happen – one to one meetings, skip level meetings, informal or casual conversations, fun filled conversations – all bring value and sense of belongingness.
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Lead by example
Your team members emulate what you do and not necessarily what you say. Clichéd as it may be, leading by example is certainly important. Ensure that the personal examples you set bring a sense of stability and persistence in the people. Do you have a well-balanced life? Do you talk about your family time just like you talk about your business vision? Seeing you as a normal human is just as important as seeing you as a business leader.
Invest in yourself
In continuation of the above point, leaders must invest in themselves not just to enhance their own skills but also to set an example for the teams members. It requires proactive planning and financial investment to develop oneself. Seeing the leader as someone committed to learning motivates team members to do the same. They start seeing “development” as an imperative aspect of professional life.
What would you add to this list of ‘traits that make a leader great’?
This article first appeared on Linkedin on October 19th, 2016.
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