Leadership tends to be one of the most researched and talked about subject, yet only a small number of discourse have made the point that leadership starts with you. Leadership starts with you and from within you, it is from the inside out and it is centred in your character, your knowing and your values.
It is important for you to know that: awareness, emotional intelligence, self-esteem, your desires and your character are central to your leadership; to how you lead yourself, how you lead others; the way you act and behave with other leaders and the way you exercise business level leadership.
My definition: Leadership is creating the space to bring forth the greatness in others, for others to be their best. It is tapping into unlimited human potential and turning the potential of others into desired results. Leadership creates a culture that enables people to release their creativity, vision and intelligence
Leadership is not:.
- About position or seniority
- About your title
- About your personal attributes
- Management – management is about processes, operations, plan, measure, information and finance.
Why is leadership important?
I have learnt that as a leader you need to drive action. Ideas are great but you have to put them into motion, you have to drive momentum and creativity, the momentum and the creativity need to be worthwhile and that is not always an easy task.
Global leadership requires the capacity to operate effectively in a global environment while being respectful of cultural diversity (Harris & Moran 2004). Global leadership development needs be part of the strategic plan of any organization that wants to flourish in the global market.
The current situation
- 85% of Fortune 500 executives believe that their organization lacks capable global leaders (Gregersen, Morrison, & Black, 1998; Morrison, 2000).
- There is a shortage of globally developed talent.
How well you lead determines how successful you are in every aspect of your life. John Maxwell in his book, Talent is Never Enough exemplifies that, you may be very talented but talent does not make you a good leader.
The results that you are attempting to achieve as a leader will always be capped by your leadership ability; your leadership ability is dependent on how well you lead people.
Your team can only go as high as your leadership ability allows. That is why leadership development is important; you need to raise the bar of your ability as a leader to let more potential flow through. Your team’s ability could be extremely talented but those abilities will never rise above your ability as the leader. Hence, the importance of your awareness of your emotional intelligence, awareness of your strengths, competence and areas that are not your strengths and in which you are not competent.
I have spent 30 plus years being a leader, gathering experience on leadership development and training in the British National Health Service. I have a tapestry of experience and I bring a unique set of experience to my clients. I hold the space for my clients’ full potential – informed by my foundations and qualifications in nursing, midwifery, teacher, university lecturer, business psychologist and entrepreneur.
More than ever, as a leader I find I have a passionate desire to host the conversation on the future of leadership, share insights and innovation on how best to navigate the future and create a space that is better for every one. My listening adds value and power to my clients and in my listening to them, I enable them develop their full potential.
I am a safe sacred space for others to discover themselves as their full potential. I work to enable the essence of others. For others to: reclaim their power, reveal their genius, release their vision, creativity and intelligence.
What other experts say about leadership:
Warren Bennis says, leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. In my experience I have come to know that holding an exciting and positive vision of the future is one of the most important role of a leader.
Napoleon Hill says, “a leader is a dealer in hope”. For me hope is the demonstration of faith in that which is not yet manifested into outer reality and this draws on the emotional intelligence of optimism; not blind optimism, but having done the strategic ground work, get into the motion of bring out the best in people and working towards the desired outcomes.
Peter Drucker says: “leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights; the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard; building of a personality beyond normal limitations.” I find myself in synergy with Peter Drucker and I progressively challenge my clients to apply thinking and actions to move them from the ordinary to the extra-ordinary.
David Marquet says: “Leadership is embedding the capacity for greatness in people and practices of an organization, a decoupling of leadership from the personality of the leader. I agree there is so much more to human potential, most of the human population is only using 10-15% of their mind and power of the brain.
So how do you raise your leadership ability?
It starts with you, with your intention, your understanding that leadership can be developed and that development is a life-long process.
Commitment to develop your leadership. Understanding that leadership development is a process and like any other process you have to grow – you undertake stretch assignments and you intentionally move from your comfort zone. You need to be aware that moving out of your comfort zone is a contract with you, it starts from within you.
From where you are right now. The perfect place for you to grow is where you find yourself at the current time and place. You need to drive action. Ideas are great but you need to put them into motion, you need to drive momentum and creativity, the momentum and creativity need to be worthwhile and that is not always an easy task.
Understand that every interaction and every situation that you encounter is an opportunity for leadership and growth, when you accept that awareness, you begin to expand your leadership ability.
So here follows a few questions for you
- What momentum is your leadership currently driving?
Is that momentum leading to excellence and added value in your business?
Is that momentum demonstrating commitment to improving goods and services for people and society in general? How engaged are you with the millennium development and the sustainable development goals?
Are you creating a better world through your leadership?
Here follows 7 Steps towards expanding your leadership ability:
- Interact with people who think differently to you, whenever possible surround yourself with people who are operating at a higher level in comparison to you. Do you want to be a better leader? Get around better leaders.
- Act with courage and authenticity – stop trying to be something that you are not, stop wearing masks and stop any focus on false charisma. Manage your energy, your psychology, your vision, creativity and your influence. Know what it takes to be calm, consistent, confident and courageous in every aspect of your life.
- Know who you are and what matters most – be clear on your values, principles, protocols, practices and philosophy
- Listen to your intuition and have the courage of your conviction to do the right thing. Be conscious of the legacy that you want to leave.
- Stay connected with the people you are leading and have a well-developed network. Your success and influence is dependent on the quality of your network.
- Refrain from stifling your and other people’s creativity.
- Know when to challenge, when to care and when to draw the line.
Leadership has challenges
The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour, but without folly. Jim Rohn
Your attributes, qualities and traits that affect your leadership are related to: trustworthiness, integrity, fairness, vision, creative environment, communication, emotional intelligence and your ability to admit mistakes, to be authentic and responsible as well as being a team builder.
The challenge of leadership will be presented to you continuously and there will be many. The following 7 Unique Challenges to leadership need your focus on:
- The strategic purpose of your business
- Board and team effectiveness
- Leadership capacity and capability
- Succession planning
- A variety of business assessments; including assessments of the political, economic, technological, ecological and ethical perspectives for your business; what are the ethical and social responsibility in regards to the way your business services and products are developed and delivered?
- Leading multicultural teams
- Impact of external stakeholders.
To a large extent you can overcome those challenges by keeping your finger on the leadership pulse through:
- Attending to sustainable and ethical and sustainable developments
- Having an inspiring vision for the future of your business
- Giving due processes to succession planning
- Developing your leadership effectiveness
- Inspiring others
- Guiding change processes
Knowing your team(s) and building on the strengths within your team(s)
Knowing your organization, knowing your business and knowing the global issues affecting leadership and your business
What most people want from their leaders – It is important to remember what most people want from their leaders, here follows a few points:
A leader who is passionate for the role of leadership, one who serves the service/product and people with integrity
A leader who is insightful of the impact s/he has on others and one who is committed to the development of people
One who listens and is empathetic and appreciative of the challenges faced by others
A leader who sees the big picture, anticipates changes and works with managers and teams to develop strategies to respond
A leader who values people and build good relationships
A leader who does what is right and one who is fair
A leader who appreciates and supports cultural and gender egalitarianism
A leader with the ability and capacity to work across organizational, regional and international boundaries
Dr Neslyn Watson-Druée, Beacon Organisational Development