Leadershipby Andrea Charman
- What do I need to know about leadership in general?
- What do I need to know about different leadership styles?
- What will it take for me to develop my leadership effectiveness?
- How can I deal with difficult people in an effective manner?
- Why is leadership so high profile a topic today?
- What differentiates leadership from management?
- What are the differentiators of successful middle and senior leadership?
- Why is it that a leader who is high profile in one context may well fail in another?
- I thought leaders should be solution centres, but I get the sense that this is not what effective leadership is about. Why?
- How do I achieve credibility?
1. What do I need to know about leadership in general?
It is critical to be clear about the difference between management attributes and leadership qualities. Most research shows that is not a question of either/or today, but a question of and/both.
2. What do I need to know about different leadership styles?
In an increasingly global arena, where players are sourced from a huge variety of cultural, ethnic and belief backgrounds, one style (we all have a default style) will not suffice. Since it is now commonly accepted that leadership capacity is learned, it goes without saying that effective leaders are capable of drawing on a gamut of styles. The context will dictate which approach to any given challenge is appropriate and most likely to offer successful performance outcomes. It will take an enhanced level of emotional intelligence (EI), however, for the highest levels of success. Since EI is a leaned capacity, success will clearly begin with an awareness of the issues and a strategy to proceed.
3. What will it take for me to develop my leadership effectiveness?
Leadership effectiveness is first and foremost about authentic presence. It is about self-esteem, consistency and showing the way. Effective leaders command respect, not fear, and foster collaboration, not competition; they set boundaries through consultation, not edict; they inspire and motivate, rather than coerce; they provide the space for others to develop and contribute, rather than control, and most of all, they set the vision and the values that will inform the parameters, doing so in agreement with other stakeholders. In this way, leaders enable others to buy into the journey.
4. How can I deal with difficult people in an effective manner?
Deaking with people will always be ‘messy’, but effectiveness in dealing with difficult people is all about clarity of engagement. Excellent leaders are clear about the parameters of engagement, about agreeing expectations and the behaviours and attitudes that are expected along the way. They deal with non-performers and difficult individuals in a timely and decisive manner, rather than letting things slip into the dysfunctional.
5. Why is leadership so high profile a topic today?
In the industrial economy, management was the focus because of the hierarchical structures of a command-and-control, mechanistic organisational model, based on military thinking. All contributors had a place in the structure (a reflection of the social structure), but the place was ‘defined’. Cause and effect ruled in this logical linear world. Today, all this has changed thanks to ICT and the digital world that allows all of us (at least notionally) to access information and have a voice. The result is that expectations have changed along with the opening up of choice. So what is the overarching result? Metaphorical climate change, where constant yet discontinuous change is the rule; where multiple stakeholders who need to be consulted are common; an environment where everything is so complex and so fast moving that no one individual can succeed alone. The ability to engage others and build relationships, partnerships and communities of interest, therefore, is critical. These are leadership skills – people rather than process skills. The game has changed and, along with it, the attributes and qualities to succeed.
6. What differentiates leadership from management?
Management focuses on process and task; leadership focuses on vision and people.
7. What are the differentiators of successful middle and senior leadership?
Senior leaders embody the vision and provide the ‘public persona’ of the organisation. Their strategic role is to set the tone, model the way, inspire and engage.
Middle leaders are the critical link between the top and the frontline. With a far more operational role – albeit without loss of strategic perspective – they need to influence upwards while taking responsibility for the detail of performance. Middle leaders are critical in keeping senior leaders informed of ‘messages and themes from the frontline’, while embedding initiatives that come from the top. In sum, they need to look two ways. And that is not all! They also need to develop peripheral vision, building coalitions horizontally so that vertical silos are avoided.
8. Why is it that a leader who is high profile in one context may well fail in another?
As in all things, fit is critical. Styles and approaches differ and each of us has a default style. Many of us do not know what our default is; we therefore abdicate choice. Great leaders (these are rare) have such high levels of self-awareness and self-management that they can select the most impactful approach for any given situation without loss of authenticity or levels of trust.
9. I thought leaders should be solution centres, but I get the sense that this is not what effective leadership is about. Why?
Consider this example. Two managers, both wishing to take a consultative approach to their roles, have an open door policy and have taken time to foster a consultative approach to problem-solving in their teams. One tells his/her staff what to do when approached with a problem for co-consultation; the second discusses the problem and helps his/her staff to decide what course of action is preferable. After three months in post, the first manager is complaining that staff cannot be trusted to do the work; they fail to take responsibility for issues, so as a least resort he/she has to take on what should be their work. What has actually happened is that the staff feel unsure and disempowered; as a result, they push everything upwards. In the case of the second manager, staff feel confident and supported, even when things go wrong. The latter manager is leading and there is a great satisfying sense of working together.
10. How do I achieve credibility?
Know your message and then be yourself once you have decided what that means. In short – what are your values and how are these experienced by others in the workplace? Are you and your vision true to your values? Consistency is critical, as is transparency. This is not about popularity, but rather about respect and integrity.