Monday, January 31, 2011
WHAT MAKES A LEADER EXCEPTIONAL?
If someone could develop a “one size fits all” leadership style that was “guaranteed to produce positive results” they would make a fortune. We all bring unique and individual characteristics to the leadership party so such an approach could not work. To maximize results we must identify and accentuate strengths, meld them into the fabric and culture of our workplace, then find ways to make up for their inevitable weaknesses. While this might prove to be a big challenge, I have found consistent differences between strong leaders and those who wish they could lead.
• Leaders who struggle to gain respect often “deliver” news as being “from Management” rather than “owning it” and seek credit for things that “go right” while assigning blame for things that “go wrong.”
• True leaders leave their reservations about communications in the meeting room – expressing opinions and concerns behind closed doors – then take ownership for the news they deliver. They also “own” their department’s failures while deferring the ownership of success to others.
• Leaders who struggle to make a difference often wait for direction and guidance (so they do not do something that might be “wrong”) then openly express resentment that decisions are made without their input or suggestions.
• Strong leaders make decisions based on the information they have at their disposal (recognizing that if the information changes, so might their decision). They then take action, guiding employees AND informing top management (not necessarily seeking permission) before they are surprised to hear about it from someone else.
• Ineffective leaders tend to ask, “Why am I not part of the management team?” Strong leaders step forward to make themselves an invaluable part of it by learning as much about the organization as possible and leveraging this knowledge to make significant, profitable decisions.
Everyone has his or her own idea about what makes an individual effective at pulling others along the right path rather than pushing them (kicking and fighting) up it. My two most significant observations are:
• There is no limit as to how much can be done IF we do not care whom receives the credit for doing it.
• People (both in the workplace AND within society) contribute more if they WANT to do something than if they HAVE to do something. Great leaders put more effort into selling than they do into telling – into securing “buy-in” and sharing ownership than they do making excuses or assigning blame.
What are YOUR observations about leaders? Add your thoughts through comments to this posting!