The seven essences of leadership
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1. Understand that effective leadership has changed dramatically in a
Today we can only hold 10% of the information we need in our brains, compared to
three quarters just a generation ago. Our society is developing so fast, with
social and technological change, globalisation and the growing concern for the
future of our planet - while our genetic brain remains stone-age! The human gene
defaults. Does your firm define leadership as: “knowing everything, and telling
people what to do” – especially in stressful times?!
Leaders need to earn staff respect and loyalty. You must embed understanding
that followers need their own insights, rather than just your rules or commands.
2. Increase Self-Awareness.
Self-awareness is the first rung on the ladder to Leadership excellence. Knowing
“who” you are increases self-confidence and enables you to take on challenges
more effectively. Do you think or feel your way to solutions? Do you like to
leave things open or make judgements and decisions quickly? Are you rational
when making decisions or intuitive, or both?
We need to know our personality preferences.
Are you competitive? Optimistic? Good with change? And we need to map out our
values and ethics, using tools that really help build a picture of who we are.
3. Manage emotions to improve performance (EI).
The science of Emotional Intelligence, developed in the 1990s, shows us how
handling emotions effectively has a huge effect on performance and those around
you. The angry person who blows up for a minor reason ruins others’ ability to
act for a week! Leaders who cannot manage sadness, disgust, fear or surprise can
have devastating effects on those around them.
4. Developing different styles.
No one has the acumen to use the whole range of leadership styles naturally.
Even those considered very competent usually only have a couple of different
ways of operating, suiting their personality and environment. But there are six
main styles (Visionary, Coaching, Affiliative, Democratic, Pace-Setting and
Commanding) to cover the full range of leadership contexts. They have to be
absorbed by learning new behaviours.
For example, some personality types will find it hard to use the Coaching style
effectively – by learning to be empathetic. But by focusing on effective
listening and then reflecting accurately what people are saying, we find leaders
actually become more interested in others.
5. Learning to create a culture to promote performance.
Leaders often mistakenly believe they have a direct impact on the performance of
an organisation. But, except when negotiating an acquistion or major contract,
they can only set the “climate” in which others operate. The culture then
For optimum performance, honesty, transparency and mutual respect must be the
norm. The leader must set the example. This will allow trust to develop.
LeaderShape finds virtually everyone in an organisation (including its leaders)
wishes to decrease the power structures and increase support for real,
LeaderShape can look at culture across your company in four areas; Power,
Structure, Achievement and Support. After our work, our surveys show the
development of performance-enhancing cultures.
6. The contract between leader and follower: expectations understood.
Leaders rarely clarify what they expect from people around them. This frequently
causes misunderstanding and relationship breakdown – or at best inefficiency.
For effective operations, people need to understand the goals and the leaders’
own responsibilities. See panels for our suggestions, (remembering all leaders
also sometimes follow.)
7. Identify key strengths and behavioural development needs.
The real barrier to change is knowing what to change and how. In our experience,
a 360o assessment is vital to show where people’s strengths lie and their key
development needs. Many such tools don’t do the job well or there is little
useful follow-up. The assessment must measure behaviours not skills, be
confidential to the individual (and not on the HR file!) and inputs (apart from
the line manager) must be anonymous. Most important of all, a process to change
the key behaviours identified must be implemented. Leaders themselves often
resist assessment – usually out of fear of what they will find.
Overcome that barrier and you are well on your way to excellence.
Empowerment: Of individuals to take decisions
Delegation: To the lowest possible level.
Support: Continue to provide guidance but encourage others to create
Maximise Potential: offer new experiences, development programmes and
Share as much information as possible: Only keep information confidential
when you really have to.
Organisational harmony and efficiency require certainty
Everyone who implements a decision should help make it.
of “blame” culture: Mistakes are where learning takes place. In successful
cultures processes can be replaced by guidelines.
About the Author
John Knights a Co-founder and Chairman of LeaderShape Ltd. “My purpose in
business is to help leaders develop leadership excellence.” He is an experienced
Coach, Mentor and Facilitator of individuals (especially CEOs and Senior
Managers), teams and peer groups. His business experience encompasses a broad
range of senior management responsibilities in international corporate
environments in the U.S.A., Europe, U.K. and Asia. To boost your leadership
skills and understanding, please call: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)870 990 5576 or
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-10-07 12:09:03 in Personal Articles