You know historical leaders. You may also have leaders in your entourage. What do these leaders have in common? This management dossier proposes 6 essential areas shared by leaders. In order to improve your own leadership qualities…
If I asked you the name of a great leader, which one would you name me? Perhaps Napoleon, who conquered Europe and transformed French civil society? Or perhaps Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who led hundreds of millions of people towards independence through non-violent fighting (ahimsa)?
Or maybe your grandmother?
Whatever great names in leadership come to mind, you have good reason to think of them as such: leaders. But what are those reasons? What makes a person a great leader?
Usually, you can tell such a person at first glance. However, it would be too long to list all the qualities of leadership. Moreover, we are all different, which is why we can all become leaders in a very different way: Napoleon and Gandhi are great leaders. However, they are all opposed to each other in form, and many in substance.
However, if we look at what creates leadership, we notice that there are points shared by most of them. In this issue, I propose the 6 areas that I believe are essential to becoming a leader.
1- Knowing if you are a manager or a leader
This may seem trivial to you, but we are not budding leaders. I am one of those who believe that leadership is learned and cultivated over time. Other people I respect think that leadership is something “innate”.
What is the difference between a manager (in the sense someone who manages) and a leader? Stephen Covey gives a startling tip to find out:
Imagine a large group of people. A ladder is placed on the facade of a very large building. Each person in the group has to climb the ladder to get to the very top of the building.
The MANAGER makes sure that the ladder is secure. That the rungs of the ladder are strong and resistant to weight. That people climb the ladder safely.
The LEADER determines what the goal is. That is, WHY people should climb to the top of this building.
Perhaps you sometimes have to take on both roles at work? Most likely. On the other hand, what distinguishes the leader is that he knows why he wants to do something (climbing that building, releasing a new product, getting as many customers as possible this month and not next month, etc.).
And that he stays focused on his goal.
2- Know your management and leadership style
Are you more of the type to do work regardless of barriers and obstacles? A very organized person capable of seeing and predicting the smallest details of very large projects? Are you rather a spontaneous and creative person who has to fight against the ravages of time and deadlines? Do you prefer to work in a quiet environment?
Who we are and our preferences determine the way we lead other people. In fact, we tend to manage the team the way we would like to be managed ourselves.
If a leader has 1001 ideas per second that were due to be realized yesterday, every day is marked by unexpected events, and every day is different from the previous one. Some people cannot work in this atmosphere. If, on the other hand, the leader is very organized, he will realize that he works with creative people… but working a little bit on a day-to-day basis. This can cause delays and eventually “disassemble” the little clock that the leader tries to wind up every day.
This is why I think it is important for the leader to be familiar with his leadership style. This knowledge helps to adapt it and thus create an environment in which everyone can blossom.
3- Facilitating succession and internal promotion
If you’re not at the top of your company’s ladder
Until recently, at the end of his term of office in his company, the leader was responsible for finding a new leader to replace him. And to prepare for his arrival.
Today, however, “preparing the succession” is a task in its own right. As the baby boomers retire, it is estimated that by 2018, 60% of the current leadership will leave at the same time. So, even if you’re starting out, think about all the people who could come into the company and fill the positions of those retiring.
If you’re the head of the company…
It’s the same principle, except that you have all the power to anticipate potentials, to decide and prepare people who will climb the ladder in your company well in advance. This is something you feel as you work with different people.
4- Incorporate this: “it’s all about relationships”
Leadership is about person-to-person relationships. It is a fundamental thing that is often overlooked by leaders.
There are 3 reasons why everything in business and in the corporate world is a matter of relationships:
- People leave leaders. Not companies. Attraction, the ability to retain an employee, productivity, efficiency and creativity are much more related to the relationship with the superior than to any other factor. If you don’t make people want to give their best, they won’t.
- Customers buy from and work with people they trust. You cannot create a high level of trust without building a relationship that is positive in every way.
- People work body and soul for those who help them reach their potential. People do not care about what you know about their potential until they realize how much you care. If you provide the means and the assistance that a person needs to reach their potential, then you discover the key to take that person to the highest stage of efficiency and devotion.
5- Promote good communication
Most of the time, a company knows that internal communication is not effective. But generally speaking, the company and its managers do not know how to lay the foundations for good communication.
Traditional communication methods are important and should be used. But there are certain points, certain methods that should be considered with great care:
- Performance appraisals. When you start in a company, or when you simply start managing a team, you lack effective tools to measure performance. However, it is necessary to acquire such tools, person by person, to measure this performance. With confidence: the goal is not to “click” but to go for the best.
- Discipline among the team. Discipline is sometimes necessary. Only this discipline can very often be avoided by mentoring, by “taking charge” of communication well in advance of worries. It starts at the recruitment stage with an accurate description of the job concerned, expectations, etc. Once the person has been recruited, this includes 200% availability and listening so that the information is received (feedback from employees) … and that this information is considered.
- Getting people from different generations to work together. For the first time in history, we have almost four generations of people who can work in the same team. This creates very exciting opportunities, but also many challenges. You’ve probably heard things like “the younger generation has no ethics”. Or “the older generation would do well to move into the 21st century”. The leader needs to understand these generations, their characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, the specific needs and expectations of each generation… and how to make all these people work together to make the company more efficient.
6- Developing a professional image
The way people perceive you is in their minds. Their perception is their reality. If people perceive you as trustworthy, then you are trustworthy from their point of view. If they perceive that you are not a trustworthy person, then you are not.
The critical relationship in this perception is that your professional effectiveness is directly related to how people perceive you. You already have an image. Whether or not you know this image of yourself doesn’t change anything: it speaks louder than your own words.
As you become imbued with the 5 points above, this 6th point becomes a natural conclusion… and easier to understand.
Take your leadership style, for example, and try to find out your strengths and weaknesses. What in your style and skills contributes positively to your professional image? What contributes negatively to that image? What would you like to change?
Think of your skills as a communication device. Identify areas for improvement. This will have a direct impact on your professional image as a leader.
What leadership skills should you improve? Use these 6 points to help you, and work on them!