What makes a good leader?
We have a certain stereotype of a leader: typically, this is someone who is in a positon of power, has authority, is charismatic enough to motivate others to do things, oh…. and is usually male.
We often talk of leaders as though they were somehow different from us and that only a few will achieve this status. Our mind set is that leaders exist in a hierarchical structure and are chosen or appointed to lead by others in the structure.
I believe that these views on a real leader are holding us back – as individuals and in the work place. This stereotype of a leader defines who we see as leaders around us and also whether we see ourselves as potential leaders or not. In both cases the results are a lack of real leaders in an organisation and individuals operating as less than their personal potential. Neither good for growing your business.
So if this is our current distorted view of leadership, what in reality makes a good leader? We all have our own ideas of what makes a good leader, however the key elements of what makes a good leader are they know the outcomes they want, can get things done and they can motivate others.
The most effective leaders are those who, rather than leading from a position of power to assert authority over others, lead first by knowing themselves, have the ability to listen, consider the views of others and essentially lead authentically from the heart – arguably more female traits compared to those masculine traits of power and authority.
To move to a world where we see and experience more effective leaders around us, we need to change our mind set about who we see as leaders, and really importantly shift how we see ourselves as leaders.
To explain this in more detail there are essentially three levels of leadership:
When we think of leadership we tend to think of it as something that is bestowed upon someone, and our attention is focused on high profile leaders in the public, who lead groups of people from tens, to hundreds, thousands, even millions in the case of country leaders.
But being a leader is something that has to start from within. We cannot lead others effectively, not even on a private leadership level, (when we lead and motivate someone on a one to one basis), until have a strong level of personal leadership. Self awareness is at the heart of being a great leader.
If you are a leader in a public position of power and authority, guiding and directing others – or even just one other, then you need to know yourself because when you lead others there is no place to hide, no room for doubt and no time for experimenting.
Whilst public leadership involves envisioning, planning, executing and evaluating and private leadership involves appraising, building, training, coaching and delegating. Personal leadership on the other hand involves motivating oneself. It requires you having the right level of technical competence; the right attitude towards other people; the ability to connect with others, self-mastery and ultimately the choice to live a life led by purpose and personal values.
Personal leadership is how you live your life consciously from within – choosing to be responsible (response-able) rather than reacting and responding automatically to external events and circumstances around you. True leaders can be found anywhere, in all walks of life – not just in positions of power. It is that sense of alignment to self and purpose and the ability to be authentic with others, that demonstrates who will be a good leader.
Nurturing effective leaders is critical for the future growth and success in your organisation. It is time to change your mind set on what being a leader involves and ncourage all your staff to lead from within. No matter what their role or level of responsibility support them to develop their personal leadership skills so that they can be the leaders of your company in the future.
Do you lead your company from within? Have you encouraged your staff to develop and grow and be leaders at all levels? If you would like to find out more about how to develop your staff to be effective leaders in your organisation, contact me for a chat about your needs and how to create the people foundations to successfully grow your company.