Many of us would agree that Leadership is the ability to see ahead, take courageous stands and have the ability to inspire and persuade others towards a goal or vision. While I might agree with all who say that this is Leadership, question is this ONLY what Leadership is?
Can a very Charismatic Leader shape and change things however he wants?
Can a leader with only his conviction, charisma, vision, courage and persuasion:
Ensure that a failing business turns around
Change the negative culture of an organisation to what he feels is best suited
The fact is that many leaders, come in thinking they will change the world, believing that they can control everything they put their passion, commitment and dedication behind; often to find the reality though is very different.
Leaders lead people
A leader is not a leader, unless he has people to lead or people who are willing to follow him.
People work for people!
So a leader needs to connect with the people around him.
People who work with a leader are always weighing you up and asking themselves, "Is this someone I can trust, do I believe this person will enable us to fulfill our goals and vision?"
Leaders can either sit miles above and try to direct people to do things or he can be a part of the organisation placed in the middle, having an influence on all that is happening and at the same time being influenced and shaped by the organisation and its people.
So what can you as a leader do to connect with the people you lead:
Build openness and trust so that you and the team can confront difficult issues openly
Give enough respect so that people are happy and want to work with you. So they are driven to put in that extra bit
Don't wear a mask, come across as genuine and natural. Be willing to appear fallible like everyone else, let people see your weaknesses & strengths.
Leverage your EQ(Emotional Quotient) not just your IQ (Intelligence Quotient). Don't focus on only being rational and logical all the time, be willing to draw on emotions & Intuition
Empathize, remember and relate back to your life experiences and how others are probably going through the same.
Focus on the here & now, when with your team focus on the people with you, don't be distracted.
Develop a team value system that becomes easier for people to relate to when taking decisions where people might have varied views. Thus making it easier to collaborate and come to a common outcome.
A leader who doesn't manage to connect with his people will never be able to Inspire and persuade his people to have the same drive, determination, passion & commitment that he has. Thus, finding himself not achieving the lofty goals that he initially set out to achieve.
Leaders Lead in a Dynamic context
Many leaders come into a new role, team or organisation believing that they will bring about the same revolutionary changes that they were able to bring about in their previous roles. What they often fail to realise is that "What works at one time, with one group of people, in one situation" does not necessarily work in another.
Context is Key!
Context is defined as a variety of things starting from:
Values, Needs and aspirations of the people involved
Personality, interests and preferences of those involved
Existing Systems, processes & ways of doing things
Culture of the organisation (Ways of thinking and behaving)
Current business situation & environment
Social and political environment
Leaders need to accept that the context is dynamic and ever changing and unless they understand and adapt to the current & changing contexts they will fail.
Leaders are human
Leaders need to let go of the weight of idealism.
They need to get over the burden of how they ideally should be, instead accept who they are:
A combination of strengths & weaknesses
A person like any other who has seen his share of successes and failures
A person who is mostly optimistic, however, from time to time has his own self doubts, apprehensions and fears.
Leaders command respect, not because the are perfect, but because they are real, passionate, hardworking, committed, largely optimistic & driven!
To be REAL and HUMAN as a leader you need to:
Know & accept yourself for your strengths and weaknesses
Relax and be willing to make & accept your mistakes
Be willing to be imperfect in some things
Realise the future is uncertain and you can't always foresee and predict what is go
ing to happen.
Be willing to reach out to your team and others to help foresee, deal with uncertainties, fill the gaps of your weaknesses.
Remember use many minds and create many leaders to reduce the burden of expectations
The Leadership reality is that a leader needs to Lead people in uncertain contexts by evaluating and understanding the contexts. This he can only do it if he accepts that he is human and needs to connect and work with his people to lower the burden of expectations and utilise the strengths and skills of the team as a whole.