There are no shortage of blogs and authors (including this one) that address the topic of effective leadership in business. And, we often make the same points through different examples and stories!
In Twitter alone, the volume of leadership tweets and retweets tell us there is an active search for effective leaders.
There is so much continuing communication about this topic because effective leadership is uncommon everywhere. This includes business leadership.
Why is Effective Leadership Uncommon in Business?
In reality, various organizational stakeholders are to blame for the lack of effective leadership in business. Senior executives and HR professionals have some blame when they recruit and promote on the basis of technical skills and downplay the importance of people skills.
These same organizational stakeholders compound the problem with their organizational reward strategies.
Specifically, by rewarding the wrong individuals with more power, resources, and responsibility, they send a message that the organization cares little about how managers treat their employees as long as these managers get results for the organization.
By rewarding the wrong individuals with power in an organization, senior leadership sends a message that the organization cares little about how managers treat their employees as long as these managers get results for the organization. Click To Tweet
How exactly does this work?
You'll see this flawed management reward strategy in organizations where the valued managers can best be described as technical superstars who are also interpersonal underachievers.
As these individuals assume more senior leadership roles, they create an organization in their own image.
It should not be surprising that all of these organizational forces create an environment that lacks effective leadership and is more about politics and retaining power than it is about strategic direction.
What Do Effective Leaders Do?
Effective leaders do exist however and they do the following:
Effective Leaders See The Possibilities in People!
Effective leaders first view people as assets rather than problems that have to be neutralized or discarded.
Effective leaders look for the natural strengths that their team members possess and they align what they need with those talents. When team members falter in a role, leaders' first thoughts are how to help the team members succeed—not how to get rid of them.
Effective leaders start from the perspective of value. They offer training and development, mentoring, and stretch assignments to help these team members succeed. They remove organizational obstacles that hinder performance.
Ultimately, they get team members in the right roles where the team members can both excel and help the leader fulfill the organization's goals. If a team member really cannot cut it, leaders will make the necessary tough decisions but they will do it with dignity.
Leaders who are callous in their execution of tough decisions hurt their own effectiveness--particularly with those stakeholders that remain in the organization.
Effective Leaders Experiment!
Effective leaders are about results--positive outcomes.
They challenge the routine and they look for better ways to accomplish strategic goals. They tweak their approach and they recognize that not every problem needs a complete overhaul.
They keep reinvention alive in the organization by making small improvements on what already exists, eliminating what is no longer needed, and spearheading bold new initiatives as necessary.
They use experimentation to remain viable!
Effective Leaders have the Courage to Fail!
The old saying nothing ventured, nothing gained is true.
Business professionals who are paralyzed by fear or an excessive amount of caution (as opposed to a healthy amount of caution) cannot lead their organizations.
There is a misconception that effective leaders are fearless. This is a myth. Effective leaders are human like everyone else and they feel fear. In fact, a wise man knows both what and when to fear.
Effective leaders are just more emotionally intelligent about how they deal with any fears that they have. They are not paralyzed by their fear. They confront it and move on to accomplish their goals.
Effective Leaders Have a Clear Vision of a Desirable Future!
Effective leaders are very clear about the end goals!
They have a clear vision of "what needs to be done." They do see the big picture and they are dogged in their pursuit of it.
Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King are examples of leaders who used the tactics of non-violent protest to reach their goals of freedom from oppression and equal rights. Despite the many setbacks they endured, they doggedly pursued their end goals and never strayed from reaching the future that they envisioned.
Effective Leaders Communicate and Communicate Again!
Effective leaders are effective communicators.
Leaders send clear messages and their words unite organizational stakeholders around a common purpose. Whatever the common purpose, leaders can communicate it with a simple and compelling message of the future:
- Business leaders do this when they have a clear market direction
- Non-profit leaders do this when they rally volunteers to serve a difficult cause
- Coaches do this when they inspire a team to fight on in the face of defeat
Effective Leaders Are Ethical!
Leadership cannot be discussed in terms of communication, motivation, and strategic thinking only however. Leadership must also include ethics if leaders want to be effective.
The truth is that there are some people with organizational power who communicate clearly, take risks, see the possibilities in people, and they have clear goals of what they want to accomplish. The problem is that these leaders are not ethical. These leaders inspire other people to follow them in the wrong direction often for the leaders' self interests. Leadership without ethics is not effective.
Effective leadership is about trying new approaches, seeing new possibilities, taking calculated risks, communicating clearly, questioning and listening, and inspiring others to follow. Effective leadership is also about ethical behavior.
Effective leadership is not selfish or hypocritical. Whether an individual is leading an organization, a social group, or a family, effective leaders follow the same standards they impose on everyone else and they serve the greater good —not their own good.
We know effective leadership when we see it but how often do we really see it in practice!
The sad truth is that effective leadership is rare.
Effective leadership is about trying new approaches, seeing new possibilities, taking calculated risks, communicating clearly, questioning and listening, and inspiring others to follow. Click To Tweet
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