Leadership is often talked about and many people believe that they rarely experience great leadership. There has been a proliferation of training programmes to build leadership and create better leaders in business, yet most people feel that leaders are out of touch with what is going on.
So, what is leadership and what is good leadership?
Leadership can be defined as:
The activity of leading a group of people or an organisation or the ability to do this.
Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organisation in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.
Leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.
People often refer to the characteristics of good leadership and refer to characteristics such as:
Establishing a clear vision.
Sharing that vision with other so that they will follow willingly.
Providing information, knowledge and methods to realise that vision.
All of this seems simple enough, so what is leadership for success?
Sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly.on.ss, Innovation, and Skills found that high performance and innovative organisations require inspirational leadership, stronger management skills, and a highly trained and motivated workforce. In exploring these issues they researched and identified the characteristics of what they defined as inspirational leadership. In their research, they found that inspirational leaders made a significant difference in ensuring a highly motivated and trained workforce that was managed and run effectively.
Characteristics of an Inspirational Leader:
Lateral thinkers - inspirational leaders are lateral thinkers and they look at things from a much wider perspective by drawing on the experiences outside of their own sector and areas of expertise. DTI labeled them as "balcony thinkers", taking in a much broader view and supporting their team to do the same.
Vision and communication - inspirational leaders have these as core skills. The will have a very strong and customer focused vision of where the organisation is going. They can communicate this vision in a way that brings their team with them, while also ensuring that their team owns the vision, understands it and knows where they fit in the vision.
Being principled - this is a key trait of inspirational leaders. They have strong core values that drive and informs their behaviour. They are highly motivated, hard-working and committed, but in a quiet and understated way. They are often very demanding of their teams and have high expectations of them. Their behaviour and work are built upon values of honesty, openness and true respect for those they work with.
Being reflective - inspirational leaders are willing to learn and develop new skills and knowledge. Reflecting on their actions and decisions, and learning from them is a core practice for them. Through being reflective they are able to genuinely show weakness and vulnerability appropriately while working with a true sense of humility. They know themselves - their strengths and weakness and are comfortable with showing their vulnerability.
Risk takers - inspirational leaders take risks. They know how to flex and stretch the rules, take calculated risks and are in touch with their gut feeling and know when to follow it. They tolerate this in other people and recognise that flexibility is essential in order to make strides forward. Note, they take strides forward, not steps!
Accessible - many people describe inspirational leaders as being accessible. Inspirational leaders get out and walk the floor and speak with people. The informal contact motivates people. Also, when they are in their office they are not protected by a PA, they can be contacted and people can speak with them.
Providing information, knowledge, and methods to realise that vision.attitude and value attitude highly. They don't just focus on skills and training, but also place a high value on attitude. They realise that without the right attitude and sense of motivation, very little will be achieved. They believe in the power of the "can do" attitude. So if you want leadership for success, focus on these characteristics. Everyone has them to some degree - identify your strengths and use them to your advantage. Reflect on the areas where you may not feel so strong, identify what steps you can take to build that area as a personal strength or is there another way you can bring that strength to the leadership of your organisation. Does another person in your team have that strength? Not everyone has all of these characteristics as core strengths, but everyone can learn how to build their inspirational leadership style and behaviours. More information can be found at DTI Inspirational Leadership Research and their associated Leadership Tool, Insight to Action.