Sunday, June 23, 2013

Top Ten Characteristics in "Ultra-Leadership"

Wisdom begins in wonder.” Socrates

At the age of digitalization and knowledge economy, the business environment is much more dynamic and connected; things are moving or have moved from a "decisive and authoritative", “command & control” leadership style/engagement to a "participative, collaborative, social" leadership style/engagement. Thus, leaders and managers need to cultivate the new mindset/ skillset to make this paradigm shift smoothly. In order to lead today’s multi-generational, multicultural and hyper-connected workforce effectively, here are top ten "Ultra-leadership" characteristics.  

1.    Influence

“Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” John Maxwell

Leadership is Influence: The leader’s influence is based on the courage to inspire, confidence to assert, wisdom to negotiate, and uniqueness to bridge. To "influence" means to be able to help shape other people's views or opinions towards one's own views or perspectives

High influence takes vision, confidence, insight, resource, optimism, creativity, etc.  It’s a skill to be learned, it's well blending of persuasive communication, exemplary leadership, and personal sacrifice, all held together by a collection of confidence. Great leadership influence is thought-provoking, insightful, and unimaginable, great leaders know it’s not about how successful they are, but how they can bring hope, value, and delight to the others.

2.    Trust

Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship/team. Without trust, you will never create a positive workplace environment. With trust, leaders must then have the integrity that is consistency in what you think, what you say and what you act. – Walking the Talk.

Trust is one of the key ingredients of future corporate leadership. To cope with an uncertain future, leaders need to enable trust. Trust is the only way to deal with uncertain situations; trust can be cultivated by giving the right advice, the right guidance, the right direction. Influence begins with trust, but influence does not necessarily come as a giving to a person with a high trust index.

3.    Innovation

Innovation is business’s strategic imperative today, it's the requirement for all leaders; not just entrepreneurs; creative leaders may have natural curiosity to dig through; innovative leadership will be a champion for the culture of innovation, enjoy divergent thinking and new ideas with openness; tolerate failure or reward the one who thinks differently.

Innovation is an adventure, it takes a vision to blueprint either future of the business or a better version of services, it takes leadership teams’ imagination and creativity, discipline, and process. Innovation also takes courage, courage to fail is critical and probably even more so is management acceptance to allow those failures and not penalize those that had a great plan to develop and execute but still failed.

4.    Love 

Is Love an ingredient of leadership? Leadership is about believing in a better world, having a VISION and sharing it with others to make your dreams come true. That requires Faith AND LOVE. Faith without love is fanaticism; love makes leadership influence deeper and broader

What do leaders love? The vision?  The promise?  The belief? People or ideology?  For sure Leaders are driven by passion and love of something, true leadership's basis is freedom and liberty. True leadership comes from the heart:
-   'H' is the Heart of feelings, the confidence, purpose, drive
-   'E' is ego and empathy 
-  ' A' is your attitude toward your prospects and profession 
-   'R' is for physical, mental, and spiritual reserve 
-   'T' is for toughness – and the toughest thing is love

5.    Empathy 

Many think empathy as one of the necessary ingredients for contemporary leadership, empathy is the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person's feelings; or the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.  

From leadership perception, if you can understand how people behave, what they desire and what their fears are, you are better armed to manage them in order to gain their support. Therefore, the heterogeneous leadership with the cognitive difference is needed in today’s dynamic working environment and diversified workforces

6.    Adaptability 

It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”  ― Charles Darwin

The business and world become over-complex and hyper-connected than ever, effective leaders need to have the capability to deal with complexity: An intellectual understanding of the global business context—in other words, an ability to comprehend just how complex it can be to do business around the world. Therefore, corporate leadership faces adaptability imperatives. Leadership in the coming decade will need to be more adaptive and more distributed—the opposite of the command-and-control leadership that has dominated the twentieth century. The adaptive leaders today don’t issue orders so much as they exert their influence over diverse groups of talent.

Effective leaders should have the ability to adapt to changes, adaptive leaders will inspire crowdsourcing and crowd storming, and adaptive leadership teams comprising a diverse range of individuals with a cognitive difference will be able to draw on a wider set of experiences in order to inform their decision making. It’s meritocracy at its best – a highly diverse set of people collaborate seamlessly to represents the nature of how successful organizations work today.

7.    Balance

Leaders need to cultivate the culture of balance --the collective mindset about how they do things here and balance the diversified viewpoints, creativity, and discipline; opportunity and risk,  the team's collective capabilities upon which strength & skills available, and balance of the long-term strategic goals with short-term tactical tasks.

The most important decisions for a leader are great people's decisions because a leader's success will be determined by the leader's people decisions. A leader must build a high-performance team with a balance of strength to gain a competitive advantage. Once you know the strengths of your team, these individuals should participate in deciding what is most important and how to achieve the needed goals. 

8.    Humility

"A leader is best when people barely know he exists, When his/her work is done, his/her aim fulfilled. They will say: We did it ourselves." Lao-Tzu

 Leadership humility is more of a mindset, as the leader’s attitude of stewardship is a key enabler of a learning organization. Leadership in the future will be about listening, observing, encouraging, supporting, recognizing and rewarding.

The emphasis on knowledge creates pressure for leaders to quite possibly be "the brightest person in the room" (not always the case today!) while the need to engage and enable others emphasizes characteristics like humility and inclusiveness. These characteristics don't always sit comfortably together, that’s why the leaders also need to learn how to lead from behind, with sound judgment in recognizing the best talent in the organization.

9.    Wisdom

Wisdom combines knowledge, reflection, and experience; a senior leader may lead from experience; a younger leader may lead from imitation, but an “ageless” wise leader will lead from reflection. A wise leader has the courage to break through barriers and constraints, but also has essential pieces of awareness, grows a depth of empathy and goes beyond smartness. 

A wise leader is a good communicator upon thinking deeper, rather than just speaking louder;  upon knowing when to voice out, when to keep silent; use fewer words to express more; master of crowd-sourcing and enjoying collective wisdom. A wiser leader can also be a good promoter, to sell the vision, failure, and wisdom, with crucial skills such as the creative ability to come up with fresh ideas, the analytic ability to recognize the truly good solutions and the practical ability to convince the value and gain support.


Maturity is one of the essential ingredients of leadership. By using this word, it often means: Taking personal responsibility and not blaming others. Giving (or sharing) credit. Not taking credit for everything. Being open-minded. Being an independent thinker and unbiased communicator. 

Though maturity is not necessarily equal to emotional intelligence, it’s part of EQ, Emotional Intelligence as a Human quality has elements such as:
Self-awareness (knowing our strengths and weaknesses)
Self-regulation (controlling our emotions)
Empathy (understanding the emotions of others
Motivation (having a passion/drive for achievement & continuous improvement)
Social skills (building rapport with others and influencing others).  


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