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There is something undeniably attractive about great leaders. What’s more, with seemingly effortless charisma, they can often make the job of leadership look easy. So what can you do to become a great leader? Murray Eldridge of the Institute of Directors lists leaders’ top traits.
By: Murray Eldridge
Great leadership is about drawing a high performance from the majority of those who report into you. Here are a few pointers to help you on your way:
By becoming a leader you have committed to an unwritten psychological contract with everyone in your organisation. Your team will expect you to deliver four things: a sense of purpose and a feeling that they are doing something worthwhile for which they are valued; a sense of belonging; a sense of excitement; and that their leader is authentic and competent. If the signs, signals and actions are positive, and consistently so, the leader will create a climate where employees trust and commit to the leader. Remember though, humans are genetically wired to give bad news greater attention than good news. So you will have to work harder at sending positive signals and eradicating negative ones.
The best leaders I have observed over the past 40 years were themselves and avoided adopting a façade or acting out an imagined role. By being you, people will be able to make a true assessment of your character and determine if they can place their trust in you.
A core ethos is a guiding philosophy that shapes what you stand for and how you behave. In this way, you can provide the consistency and coherence that your employees will seek from their leader. Get to know your strengths and weaknesses, your good and bad points, and your place in the grand scheme of things; along with a core ethos, it will give you an assurance and an aura of confidence and conviction.
Adopting an aloof persona and relying on hierarchy is unlikely to connect with the current ‘social networking’ generation. By opening up inclusively (although with care and within sensible, professional boundaries) and entrusting your teams with personal information, you can increase their commitment.
You need to take interest in your team, listening and engaging and displaying real empathy, while at the same time demonstrating a future vision that is motivational. Good leaders have an innate ability to sense situations, pick up on atmospheres and make organisational cultures work for them.
Today’s global organisations are highly complex and to be a leader takes vast amounts of energy, stamina and sustained attention to detail. Never diminish the value of doing the arduous, potentially mind-numbing work of ensuring the understanding, commitment and alignment of people and resources before rolling out plans. And remember that failure to establish monitoring and feedback mechanisms destroys the best plans and strategies.
*This article first appeared on www.thehrobserver.com
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