Recent political turmoil in Canberra and the poor handling of major job losses in organisations have once again highlighted the need for more effective leadership – in politics, in organisations or in our communities in general.
Given the backdrop of an uncertain European economic climate and the enormous opportunities available in Australia, confidence in our leaders at all levels has never been more important.
These are new times we live in, and new times call for leaders who understand that it’s a new brand of leadership that will take us into the future. A brand of leadership which supersedes outdated management practices. A brand of leadership that not only embraces, but leverages the overwhelming need for individuals to become truly engaged in a leader’s purpose and vision.
This type of leadership goes beyond management. It involves gaining commitment from those being led so they understand their part in the overall purpose of the organisation and are committed to its success. Leadership involves the ability to communicate, to persuade and to encourage people to take meaningful and productive actions. It is the ability to inspire, motivate and guide others through the process of change, innovation, growth and continuous improvement. In other words, leadership is the ability to take others to new heights of performance.
Former US president Dwight D Eisenhower once said: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want them to do because they want to do it.”
Successful leaders create a vision in which others can believe. They are true to the organisation’s values and ‘walk the talk.’ They create a culture that attracts, engages and empowers the best people. Successful leaders accept and embrace the philosophy that developing leaders at all levels, not just at the top of the organisation, is essential for an organisation to sustain itself and grow over time.
Furthermore, successful leaders recognise that at the core of leading others lies the ability to lead oneself and to demonstrate the right leadership qualities, such as;
• Honesty, integrity and trustworthiness: being open, honest and fair in all interactions with others and acknowledging their rights and viewpoint.
• Accepting the responsibility of leadership: being willing, certain and positive about leading – not cautious, doubtful or dubious about doing so.
• Being highly organised and effective in their performance: setting the example and the benchmark for performance.
• Focusing on goals, solutions, results and innovation: seeking to do things in the most efficient and effective way.
• Gaining commitment from those they seek to lead: being a role model who others aspire to emulate and being able to secure their allegiance.
• Being a highly effective communicator: knowing how to communicate, when to communicate and what to expect from communication, whether it be to persuade, to encourage, to support, to unite, to praise, to discipline or to just empathise.
• Using the power of networking: forging and committing to relationships inside and outside their organisation that are built on respect, trust and ethical motives.
• Providing appropriate instruction, coaching, training and development: investing the time, effort and resources into people so that they can perform well in their roles.
• Delivering appropriate doses of inspiration and guidance: knowing how to guide without directing, to inspire without compelling.
• Practising fast, effective ‘gap resolution strategies’: identifying gaps in the operations of the organisation and swiftly resolving them.
• Embracing and successfully managing change: being adaptable, flexible, nimble and ready to move.
• Leading by example: constantly performing to the best of their own abilities to achieve the organisation’s goals, values, purpose and vision.
In the modern working world, leaders and managers who effectively apply and demonstrate these qualities will find the going easier and less fraught with turbulence. They will also be far better prepared for the challenges that the constantly changing and evolving environment presents.
The alternative is to continue with or adopt outdated approaches of years past while still expecting the same or better outcomes in the future.
Just over 20 years ago, a home computer was a luxury in Australia – and far from common. Today, it would be rare to have a home without one. The rapid development of technology and its ever-increasing pace has changed the way we do business, and interact within the community.
Consumers are abandoning their traditional buying patterns looking for better value and easier ways to buy. Baby boomers, Generation X, Y and Z look at things differently. They approach problems from different perspectives and yet they are all expected to work as a part of a cohesive team.
These changes are only the tip of the iceberg when looking at the emerging trends and challenges today’s leaders need to face.
The unrest in Canberra, news of major job losses, changing consumer patterns, technology reshaping business and communities and the difference in generations all serve as timely reminders of the need for our nation to focus on building our leadership potential and capability.
Only through inspired individuals who dare to embrace the leadership of the future can our nation and those who dwell in it hope to deal with the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities that surround us.
Andrew Henderson is the CEO of Leadership Management Australasia.