A leader establishes a clear vision, and then shares that vision with others so that they will follow willingly.
He or she provides the needed information, knowledge, methods and tools to realize that vision; coordinates, guides and coaches while balancing the conflicting interests of all members and stakeholders.
A leader will step up in times of crisis, and is able to think and act creatively in difficult situations. Builds trust and confidence with their peers, management and team and avoid behaviors that undermine leadership.
Creating Your Vision
Vision is the ability to imagine the organization’s future—and inspire others to work toward achieving that future.
- Continually look for new ideas and opportunities
- Filter and evaluate those ideas based on the vision
- Jump at opportunities that advance the vision
- Assess ongoing tasks and responsibilities
- Stay focused on the goal, not irrelevant tasks
- Seek solutions that resolve current problems and prevent future ones from occurring
Set high expectations for yourself and identify ways to go the extra mile for employees and customers.
- Do it right the first time
- Look for opportunities for improvement
- Seek new ways of doing things
- Be open to other suggestions
- Be willing to take risks
- Solicit feedback from employees, peers, customers/clients
Ingredients to effective leadership communication:
- Show passion
- Voice ideas in a clear, logical, convincing manner
- Use plain language
- Make it memorable by sharing a story, personal anecdote or analogy
- Make others the hero
- Take a risk; share a personal story
- Focus on something you have learned
- End with a call to action
- Check for understanding
- Use all available channels
- Keep your promises
- Communicate directly and openly
- Be honest about problems
- Don’t circulate rumors
- Praise more than you criticize (at least 3 times more)
- Practice what you preach
We listed some attributes that makes a good leader? The answer varies widely depending on who you ask, with researchers disagreeing on the critical components that go into the most effective corporate chief. But there are traits they do agree on, including personality components and acquired skills. Some believe even the situation for leadership itself has a bearing on the effectiveness of the leader.
What Makes These Individual Skills So Important?
First, a distinction needs to be made: the difference between a leader and a manager. A leader is someone who does the right thing, whereas a manager does things right. Or to put it another way, management is an occupation, leadership is a calling.
Important Leadership Skills
- Risk-taker – breaking molds and developing strategies that establish new ways of doing things that are more effective and sustainable.
- Planner – though a leader typically doesn’t get too involved in the details, he or she must orchestrate a high-level plan that drives everyone toward the unified goal.
- Communication skills that rely on active listening – far more than just being able to speak and write persuasively, leadership communication skills encourages others to work toward the same vision the leader has chosen.
- Commitment, resolve and perseverance – driving every aspect of the organization toward a singular unified purpose.
- Motivating – an effective leader must be able to encourage contributions from the entire organization, navigating the specific motivators of each individual or group to push the right buttons and inspire others at every level to achieve not only their personal best but the best for the organization as a whole.
- Possessing or obtaining the skills required to successfully achieve business goals – bringing a unique knowledge set to the table or acquiring it personally or through employees and other subordinates.
The most successful development of leadership skills takes place when the leader is geared toward the development of individuals or social constructs. This foundation creates a drive and a passion that many believe cannot be replicated or faked in situations where the leader is concerned solely with financial returns. As addressed in the list above, this calling demands a unique vision for success and the tools necessary to communicate and implement that vision. The leader must possess a set of clearly-defined convictions and the daring and skill to translate their vision into a reality.
Badaracco, Joseph L., Jr. Leading Quietly: An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2002.
Farr, Steven. Teaching as Leadership: The Highly Effective Teacher’s Guide to Closing the Achievement Gap. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2010.
Morrell, Margot and Stephanie Capparell. Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.
James C. Hunter. The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership. 1998