Effective Leadership and What It Takes
With all the talk about effective leadership, good management skills, and successful supervision, you would think that most people have a good grasp of these concepts and use them effectively in the workplace. Well, you would be wrong. Even though you can come up with nearly six million hits for these search terms combined, and even though you can lay your hands on nearly ten thousand books on business mentoring, managing, and general leadership, most people who find themselves in managerial positions still have a number of challenges in this area. The most common coaching challenge: what defines high performance and how to inspire it?
But what about all those seminars, workshops, and development programs implemented by businesses and organizations every year? Billions of dollars are spent training, testing, and coaching supervisors of all kinds. Unfortunately, the results are usually less than stellar. In fact, money is often lost in this endeavor, as appreciable outcomes are rare. The programs available for business mentoring are usually too complex or involved to translate back to a particular field easily. Or the solutions offered at workshops and seminars are too simplified for real-life application.
So what works?
How can you develop leaders and managers who perform to the highest levels?
I’ve been coaching individuals for a number of years, and in that time, I’ve discovered five qualities that all high performance leaders have in common. These characteristics also trickle down into the rest of the staff, creating an office culture with standard qualities, regardless of the business type. In the areas of business mentoring, the qualities I encourage for successful performance are: authenticity, courage, empathy, focus, and timing.
Authenticity is a rare quality these days, but a much talked about one. Being your authentic self entails living each moment in truth. This doesn’t stop at just telling the truth when asked a question; it also means being truthful about the kind of person you are without masks, without walls. This type of authentic person is magnetic. An authentic leader attracts followers without having to demand allegiance, and they inspire good performance and supportive attitudes, regardless of how good business is at any given time. In a way, authentic leaders and managers offer business mentoring to their staff by example. The office culture is open and honest, inspiring trust in clients, as well.
To be an effective leader or manager in today’s competitive market, you must have courage. One of the most difficult areas of coaching for most people is finding self-discipline, which is also a product of courage. When faced with the everyday challenges from clients, customers, staff members, media, and competition, you must be able to stand up for yourself and your team. When you make a mistake, as we all do, you must also have the courage to admit you are wrong. Following through on your goals takes courage, as does holding your staff to their goals and high expectations. Business mentoring sometimes requires being tough in order to maintain your integrity. This kind of backbone inspires other team members to be courageous as well.
If you have empathy, you are able to feel what other people are feeling and understand the reasons behind these feelings. In coaching, I find that empathy involves having compassion experiencing an emotion with another person. A manager who is empathetic is a skilled listener because listening with empathy is listening at a higher level. You understand the motives and ideas behind what the person is saying because you can sense what they are feeling. Business mentoring from such a leader inspires teamwork. An empathetic manager will give credit for others’ ideas and input.
To be a leader who performs at a high level, you must be able to focus on the goals you set and the results necessary to reach those goals. Result-oriented thinking is vital for the successful manager to stay on track. A good coaching basis for this type of thinking is set out in the business’ or organization’s mission statement. A manager or leader who adheres to these principles in daily living is a focused individual. They are effective leaders in that this focus inspires high performance and consistent results. Appropriate training and tools are vital to the successful mission, and a focused leader will always ensure that the staff is properly equipped. A manager who exhibits focus through business mentoring is responsible, progressive, and creative instead of controlling, unrealistic, and closed-minded.
With all the ways to increase speed and output, timing is a key ingredient in successful management. Without the correct timing, business decisions can be disastrous and ineffective. In coaching, I find that even with the other qualities listed here, without proper timing of decisions, high performance leadership is impossible. An effective leader has a keen awareness of the business climate and knows when or when not to act. Business mentoring has taught such a leader how to create and organize an effective plan, but it has also instilled an impeccable sense of timing.