1. Leadership =/= management
Leadership is always difficult to define, but one thing is certain: leadership and management are not the same thing. Both are essential to a successful business, but they should never be synonymous with each other.
Leaders create vision, develop future leaders, and lead people towards a common goal. Managers, on the other hand, are responsible for practicalities, such as planning, measuring, and problem solving. There can, of course, be overlap between leaders and managers, but each role requires different skills.
2. Leadership should be at all levels
Despite the traditional view to the contrary, good leadership is not based on hierarchy. Of course, you would hope and expect to see leadership in senior management, but in today’s fast-paced world, leadership should be seen at every level of the organisation.
High-performing businesses strive to develop leadership skills such as adaptability, creativity, influencing others, communication and business insight in each of their people, regardless of pay grade or responsibilities.
With commitment to and investment in this approach, businesses can create their own internal leadership pipeline to develop their future leaders from day one, increasing retention, improving performance, and strengthening strategy.
3. Effective leadership requires continued self-development
A good leader will always be committed to developing others, but should also be passionate about learning and improving themselves.
4. Feedback should go both ways
We all know that communication is a vital skill in any effective leader, but this is often forgotten when it comes to giving and receiving feedback. The best leaders welcome and encourage feedback upwards as well as downwards. It can be especially difficult to give ‘upwards feedback’, that is, feedback to those above you in the organisational hierarchy, and this is a skill all businesses should be teaching to their people. It allows for the free flow of ideas throughout the organisation, and is vital in nipping problems or grievances in the bud.
5. ‘Know thyself’ – Socrates
As points 3 and 4 demonstrate, self-awareness is the most important leadership skill in the 21st century. Good leaders must be acutely aware of their attributes, flaws, attitudes, and the effect these have on both the people they lead, and the organisation they are in. A self-aware leader is more likely to be self-disciplined, empathetic, emotionally intelligent, and keen to learn.
Have you demonstrated leadership this week?
Take a moment to step back and reflect on the past week. Whatever your role in the organisation, you can develop and display leadership capabilities. Use these simple questions as a jumping off point to consider how you have shown leadership, or how you could lead better in the future.
– Did you give or accept feedback this week?
– Did you delegate a task or recognise someone’s contribution to a project?
– Did you take responsibility for your own work?
– Did you really listen as well as putting across your own ideas?
– Did you collaborate with someone in a different role to you?
– Did you influence a project, action or goal?
– Did you motivate others?
– Did you empower others to improve their performance?
If you feel you did not demonstrate leadership this week, why not use the questions above to help set a small, achievable goal for next week? Developing leadership skills takes time and commitment, but the benefits for you and your business are enormous.
For now, we’ll leave you with our current favourite definition of leadership:
‘Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.’ – Kevin Kruse
Written by Florence Sturt-Hammond