Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Leadership Journey from Good to Great

The substance of leadership never changes, it’s all about making the positive influence, and providing direction, both for oneself and others.

The reason the great leadership being so rare is that people are more often conditioned throughout education to be followers, to conform, only one right answer, etc. The industrial age required followers, those, including some being put in a leadership position, that would just do their jobs and not to question. However, we are not in the industrial age any longer. On one hand, now at a digital age, there are many informal leaders - who practice professional influence via digital channels - throughout organizations, industry and beyond. More digital leaders are emerging via their power of positive influence; not the title of status quo. On the other hand, digital also raises the bar to be a great leader, because everything becomes so transparent, leadership is no longer just about a few spotlight moments, but a continuous learning and delivery; leadership is also no long only about what you talk, what you act, but about what you think - the thought processes can be much easily tracked down via your digital footprint, so how can you take an ongoing leadership journey from good to great?

The leader is both born and taught. Leadership is about Character. Natural leaders are those
who carry themselves with an air of confidence and direction. It is the level of consciousness of the leader, or, the level of self-development in regards to the ability to embody the human experience. The great leadership is only achieved once a leader has fully integrated themselves via deep introspective work and has the willingness to do this. In fact, in this regard, the first sign that you have a great leader on your hands is the very willingness to look within, integrate the emotional body, and expand the consciousness. Until this happens all else pales in comparison.

A great leader is a visionary: Leadership is one's ability to paint a vivid picture, a vision of a future state and motivate others to achieve it. There are too many transactional managers who overly focus on short-term thinking due to the pressure of stakeholder, risk aversion, or ineffective strategy. Despite our present condition and realities, we must never abandon the hope that generations to come will view things differently and breathe new life into an old and dysfunctional system. The level of thinking that creates a problem cannot possibly solve the problem. Thus, the ability to transcend the small thinking mind becomes of paramount importance. From this vantage point, integration of the psyche can occur and the leader who emerges from this vantage point has a more holistic view of the company as well as the Universe.

A great leader is transformational: A transformational leader is a person who is not afraid of doing what needs to be done for the good of the organization - in good and difficult times. A leader is someone that makes those around them better by engaging them in the overall mission of the department or group. Leading by example sets the tone for how people should handle their own critical tasks. Leading by example versus leading by title. For better or worse, leadership in business is a very complex subject which includes a myriad of hard business skills (executive, strategic planning, management, financial, functional, Sales, Marketing, IT etc.), along with the soft skills of leadership and interpersonal behaviors. Within each of the above-listed skills are many sub-skills that are included in the mix.

A great leader is not perfect, but progressive: One needs to build on their intellectual abilities through experience, training, and motivation to improve. Clearly we need to adjust to the situation in how we operate as leaders and followers while still being true to our character. One's EQ becomes important when dealing with difficult matters that challenge how we act. It requires anger management to begin with, plus self-discipline regardless of external factors: which can be gained throughout the years, and the expertise on the daily basis has become our part of strength, consequently character trait; starting from a place of humility is key. Any leader who is willing to admit "I've made mistakes in the past," or "I'm still learning how to do this better" is going to be approachable and set the right example for others to follow. And most people are looking for a great leader who makes progress, rather than perfection.

A great leader is also a great coach: Someone who supports you, challenges you, does not judge when you make mistakes, expects you to learn from those mistakes, he or she is a mentor and has realistic expectations. A leader's job is to be adept and adroit at removing obstacles, whatever that takes. So the role of a leader is to create conditions that encourage and enable others to dedicate their collective intelligence, talent, and full energy to achieve extraordinary results. Leaders are sure enough in themselves to know what they don't know and trust their own judgment of others to empower those around them to make an organization successful. Leaders thrive on the success of their subordinates as much as their own and see mentoring as a privilege, not a task to be endured. Leaders are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get dirty. Leaders understand what failure is, but another step in attaining success and never punish those who fail. Leaders understand that bad news does not improve with age and don't hesitate to share it with their leadership.

The substance of leadership never changes, it’s all about making the positive influence, and providing direction, both for oneself and others. However, transforming leadership from good to great is a journey, the challenge is that what is often needed is a 'wake up call' to that leader. That wake-up call can come in many forms, one of which we know is a crisis -that is the hard lessons, and that's the ones we don't want, but it’s the trial to test leadership authenticity; and there were those inevitable moments when leaders faced open resistance. It was in these moments that you built up the skill to understand that what was needed in some situations was a combination of stick and carrot: never one without the other. Still, the high mature leadership shall evoke the positive emotions in order to make change sustainable and lead business transformation more effectively for the long term.


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