When we are asked to think of a leader, someone who inspires us to do our best every day, a wide variety of different people come to mind. Maybe someone in your personal life, maybe someone from a television show or movie, maybe even a historical figure whose personality you greatly admire.
What most people do: Say they’re going to start training by running 3 miles, 4 days a week. They accomplish their goal for the first week or two but soon life gets in the way. they run “whenever they get a chance.”
Following Steve Jobs has arguably been the toughest corporate leadership assignment in decades, yet Cook has carried it off with mostly quiet aplomb. In 2½ years he has kept the parade of winning new products marching (the Retina display, new operating systems, the iPhone 5), and he is bringing in Burberry’s savior, Angela Ahrendts, to run Apple’ (AAPL)s retail stores. That’s thinking different.
Have unique activities that get your students moving and thinking. Allow your students to create their own paragraphs, board work, skits, or any other activity that may help them understand an old concept in a new way.
In the autocratic/paternalistic strain of thought, traditionalists recall the role of leadership of the Roman pater familias. Feminist thinking, on the other hand, may object to such models as patriarchal and posit against them emotionally attuned, responsive, and consensual empathetic guidance, which is sometimes associated with matriarchies.
If you put your preconceptions aside, you’ll clearly see that leadership skills aren’t inborn, but have to be learned by training, perception, practice and experience over time. And when we say over time – we really mean over a lifetime, as successful people never stop learning.
Leaders need to take a risk and be radical in their thinking. Playing it safe is never a good business rule, and leaders must make sure their business stays ahead by acting quickly on new ideas and innovations.
There has never been a faster-changing marketplace than the one we live in today. Leaders must be flexible in managing changing opportunities and challenges and nimble enough to pivot at the right moment. Stubbornness is no longer desirable to most organizations. Instead, humility and the willingness to adapt mark a great leader.
Become an expert. Saying, “I don’t know” as a leader is fine. Saying, “I don’t know” repeatedly to every question you’re asked is not. When you don’t know something, find out the answer. Become an expert on what you need to be a pro in. Eventually, you’ll have all the answers. You don’t need them all right now, but you’ll need each one eventually.
While leadership is unique to everyone, there are some common ways to define the term. Peter Economy, also known as “The Leadership Guy,” listed the qualities of today’s best leadership in an Inc.com article. According to Economy, leadership embodies:
This is similar to “the one who yells loudest gets heard.” Just because that person is loud certainly doesn’t mean they’re right. You don’t have to be going 90 mph (140 km/h) leaving a trail of rubble behind you to be a good leader. Actually, you shouldn’t be doing that. Your time should be spent interpreting, molding, and offering solutions.
However, it’s also freeing at the same time. Once I actually said out loud that I wanted to become a New York Times bestselling author, it became crystal clear what I needed to do in order to achieve my goal. I focused all of my attention on those things.
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Why? Because making your bed not only tidies the appearance of your room, but it also sets a small but powerful intention for your day. Making your bed is an accomplishment. You didn’t have to, but you chose to, because you’re a successful person.
Identify the things/skills/material needed to achieve your objectives. If you want to be a famous speaker, for example, you need a broad vocabulary, subject knowledge, speech writing, voice clarity, and presentation skills. This is identifying short term objectives to achieve long term goals.
Taking the time to build rapport with your team is a valuable exercise. When you get to know them and what’s most important to them, you can manage them more effectively. They’re also then more likely to come to you with problems that affect your work.
Principal Parrott at Miraloma holds a monthly parent-principal chat, an informal time when parents can come to ask questions and give input. She also schedules meetings and events at times when parents are already at the school picking up their children, for example, when the after-school program closes for the day.
Functional leadership theory (Hackman & Walton, 1986; McGrath, 1962; Adair, 1988; Kouzes & Posner, 1995) is a particularly useful theory for addressing specific leader behaviors expected to contribute to organizational or unit effectiveness. This theory argues that the leader’s main job is to see that whatever is necessary to group needs is taken care of; thus, a leader can be said to have done their job well when they have contributed to group effectiveness and cohesion (Fleishman et al., 1991; Hackman & Wageman, 2005; Hackman & Walton, 1986). While functional leadership theory has most often been applied to team leadership (Zaccaro, Rittman, & Marks, 2001), it has also been effectively applied to broader organizational leadership as well (Zaccaro, 2001). In summarizing literature on functional leadership (see Kozlowski et al. (1996), Zaccaro et al. (2001), Hackman and Walton (1986), Hackman & Wageman (2005), Morgeson (2005)), Klein, Zeigert, Knight, and Xiao (2006) observed five broad functions a leader performs when promoting organization’s effectiveness. These functions include environmental monitoring, organizing subordinate activities, teaching and coaching subordinates, motivating others, and intervening actively in the group’s work.
The use of positive reinforcement is a successful and growing technique used by leaders to motivate and attain desired behaviors from subordinates. Organizations such as Frito-Lay, 3M, Goodrich, Michigan Bell, and Emery Air Freight have all used reinforcement to increase productivity. Empirical research covering the last 20 years suggests that reinforcement theory has a 17 percent increase in performance. Additionally, many reinforcement techniques such as the use of praise are inexpensive, providing higher performance for lower costs.
Individual and team development are important activities carried out by transformational leaders. To develop a team, leaders must first understand team dynamics. Several well-established and popular models describe this, such as Belbin’s Team Roles approach, and Bruce Tuckman’s Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing theory .
Trust your instinct. If it doesn’t feel right, the chances are it isn’t right. I’m a great believer in the power of the subconscious, given time, to steer us to the right answers. That’s why I often prefer to have a couple of discussions before taking a difficult decision, even if that slows down the process. It helps give me certainty about what I think, and it helps the wider leadership group understand each other’s point of view and build consensus. The end result is a better decision with better buy-in.
Just because you need to possess leadership qualities does not mean that everybody successful in business has to be the CEO, face of the company, or person “in charge”. When Google started to really grow, the company’s founders brought in a successful CEO in Eric Schmidt to come in and run their company – they were engineers, not CEOs. The ability to lead a team or lead the masses can sometimes come down to just having the right charisma and message to get the right people to do the things that need to be done in order for the entire thing to just work. A great soldier may be good at leading troops on the field, but not managing the entire war. An amazing product designer may also be a lousy salesperson. But a great leader will discover what they do best and where their weakness lies, and know who to put where in order to ensure that their company is one that achieves real success.
Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.
But purposeful leaders don’t emerge in a vacuum; some organisations are more adept than others at creating an environment where leaders can behave purposefully. When we looked in more detail in case studies at the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, some interesting differences emerged.
Network. Networking is making connections with people who have connections. Contrary to popular belief, networking is mutually beneficial. You offer expertise, opinion, or opportunity to someone in exchange for something back.
The leader-leader model engages team members in a way that is more difficult (or impossible) with the leader-follower one. Employees are more engaged, and achieve a sense of meaning and purpose in their work. As a result, retention rates improve, collaboration increases, and the organization benefits from empowered workers who take the initiative instead of waiting around to be told what to do.
Assertiveness is not the same as aggressiveness. Rather, it is the ability to clearly state what one expects so that there will be no misunderstandings. A leader must be assertive to get the desired results. Along with assertiveness comes the responsibility to clearly understand what followers expect from their leader.
One of the most important aspects of leadership is that not every leader is the same. Of course we have all heard jokes about ‘mushroom’ leadership (keep them in the dark and feed them manure) and ‘seagulls’ (swoop in, squawk, and drop unpleasant things on people) but, joking aside, there are many different styles of leadership.