Characteristics to Learn for Effective Leadership with Julie Ann Sullivan
When I looked on Amazon to see how many books have been written on leadership, it said over 30,000. On top of that, there are countless speakers, conferences and membership organizations that profess to have the answer to the best type of leadership. But do they really? Effective leadership, like culture, is a never-ending journey. What type of information you need when you start a business is completely different from what you need when you get ready to exit. And in between, I could talk about that for hours. But since we have this short time together, I would like to talk about some of the basic underlying fundamentals. These sometimes get lost in the detail of changing environments, but they affect everyone in any position at any point in time.
First of all, I believe everyone is a leader. At some point in your life, maybe more often than you think, someone is looking to you for guidance on how to act and react in this world. The word itself, “lead”, is vital to the definition of leadership. Without duress, you can’t really make anyone DO anything. The key is to lead people to work at their fullest potential. That’s done by mutual respect and trust. These are fundamental attributes of effective leadership. Think about that. Do you instill this in the relationships you have in your organization? If this was your cornerstone for your interactions every day, your leadership style would be favorably talked about. Along with being accountable for your actions comes very big responsibilities.
Great leaders set expectations for others. In a thriving culture, these expectations are arrived at collaboratively. This is a far cry from the leadership of even just 10 years ago when the CEO and leadership team made the goals for each individual without their input. That just doesn’t work.
You’re basically asking people to come on a ride with you. A respected leader asks for help and explains the benefits of a particular direction or goal. Then that leader makes sure that the tools necessary are available along the way. If you ask your sales force to increase sales by 10%, a good steward will make sure that the support is in place to make that possible. That might include training in customer service or making sure the shipping department can follow through.
The best characteristic of good leaders is that they know how to empower people to become more than they themselves thought possible.
Thank goodness, effective leadership can be learned. Like any skill, it takes time and effort.
The successful CEO’s I have interviewed have four attributes that are the same. My favorite and the one I think is the foundation for all the others is that they are active listeners. The other three are; they are open to new and different ideas, they are continuous learners and they create safe environments.
So, you see, it doesn’t matter if you are a CEO or a receptionist. Those four characteristics make good sense for anyone and everyone at all levels of your company.
There is more about listening in the installment about communication. Look for that in the show notes.
Continuously learning comes from experiencing what other successful people know by reading books and articles, attending events, or listening to podcasts like this one, to stay current. Why try to recreate solutions for what other people have already experienced. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Book clubs are a great tool that is informative and engaging.
Try out an internal mastermind group are a terrific way to be with like minds with different perspectives. Everyone has the same successful goals for the company, but have different ideas about the path to take. Capitalize on those internal perspectives. This vulnerability of being open to new ideas has become more and more popular in creating great cultures.
Modeling the behaviors you want to see in others is mandatory for leadership. The adage of “Do as I say, not as I do” is a horrible way to teach and engage your workforce. And by the way, it doesn’t work. The new diverse and savvy workforce is becoming smarter and watching your behavior more. Be mindful of the actions you take. Be aware of the way you react to a situation and the words and body language you use.
Every action you take becomes an example of what you are looking for in the people you want to work with. Success thrives in a workplace where a good attitude, peak performance, and resiliency are a part of the norm.
Ask yourself and your workforce to be more accountable. Find a behavior within that you would like others to imitate and then expose the heck out of it. Make that type of behavior a priority company-wide. Then together, search for behaviors that need enhancing. Then, support one another with ideas to develop better-living examples to emulate. This process further increases the connection necessary to fulfill your potential together.
As Albert Schweitzer said, “Do something wonderful. People may imitate it.”
The best quote I have found about leadership comes from Jim Rohn:
“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not a bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”
Take one more step today to become the leader that instills greatness in yourself others.
If you or your team need help in finding your best leadership style, give me a call. I love team leadership coaching.
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