Over 50 years ago, John C. Maxwell defined leadership: “Leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less” and not much has changed.
Leadership, despite what we sometimes think, consists of a lot more than just understanding people, being nice to people, or not pushing other people around. To lead well, you must embrace the need for continual improvement so you can be the best leader possible.
When we talk about leadership, we talk about growth - a quantitative and/or qualitative development of one's skills related to, or understanding of, leadership. What is important to know is that personal growth as a leader is a continuous process that, over time, will result in the improvement of one's administrative and managerial strengths and capabilities.
While this growth is often very much personal, the reality is that this kind of growth has a much wider impact. As a leader grows in his or her leadership capabilities, the entire organisation may be impacted by it.
Birgit Ströbel leads in strategy and transformation, but at the core of her work is vision development. She believes that to be an effective CEO you need to define a CEO vision that shapes you and your business for success. In essence you become the Chief Vision Officer (CVO).
What is leadership?
Leadership is about developing people and helping others reach their full potential. It is about equipping others with the right tools and strategies not only to maximise the success of an organisation but also the lives of individuals. Leadership is about breaking down barriers and leading others through the uncertainty of the future.
How does leadership work?
Even the best leadership does not simply have immediate, direct effects on individual, team and organizational outcomes. Instead, high quality leadership works by first changing how individuals feel about themselves, their work and their relationships with their leaders.
In turn, these feelings about oneself, one’s work, and the relationship with one’s leader influence individual, team and organizational outcomes.
Creating an inspiring vision of the future
Effective leaders structure a vision, implement it, and bring it to life. Creating a vision means defining where your team is going and how they will get there. It’s not unusual for a leader to sit back and assume their vision will happen.
In truth, many bold strategies never reach liftoff because team members were either confused, uninspired, or had a “this too shall pass” attitude. “Company culture is directly connected to the vision, sharing a vision helps take your team with you, which in turn helps you build a stronger company culture”, Birgit explains.
A way to boost your company’s culture is to put an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace is making a group of individuals, with completely different backgrounds and experiences, feel safe and accepted in expressing their uniqueness while at work.
Allowing employees to express their differences, learn from each other and feel safe while doing it creates a strong cultural bond that breeds employee happiness and productivity.
The best leaders empower others
We become more powerful when we empower others. Great leaders unleash the leader within each person, liberating them to use their own power. The following are 5 effective ways to influence people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation.
1. Support people to get a clear picture of how they envision their future; sketching can help if words are not enough, it allows us to get our ideas down quickly without overthinking them, or even dismissing them before they've even left our brains.
2. Define what the outcome that they envision looks like; one of the key secrets is using a visioning exercise to help a group discover its broad goals. The visioning exercise guides participants through a scenario a few years into the future, the key is to help the participants visualise various areas of success and establish their goals and objectives.
3. Support them in achieving their goals; people want to see how their work contributes to larger corporate objectives, set development goals and check in, give support as needed but allow autonomy to learn too.
4. Help them to get their staff moving; a great way for managers at all levels to improve their capabilities, inspire their teams and achieve outstanding business results is through leadership training.
5. Encourage them to co-create change in order to overcome demanding challenges together. People buy-in better if they are part of the solution, let them ideate how to overcome challenges, this can inspire your employees to share their knowledge, experience, skills, suggestions and recommendations.
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Leadership is the accomplishment of a goal through the direction of human assistants. A person who successfully marshals his or her human collaborators to achieve particular ends is a leader. A great leader is one who can do so day after day, and year after year, in a wide variety of circumstances.