WHAT MAKES A LEADER?
Nowadays most organisations have leadership teams rather than management teams, but a change in title doesn’t change behaviour, and management and leadership are not the same thing. Management is about controlling and maintaining the status quo. Its purpose is to ensure that nothing goes wrong.
Leadership, on the other hand is at the next level. It is taking the organisation further by having a vision of an even better workplace, and turning it into reality by inspiring the people in the organisation to work towards that vision.
Why being a leader matters
If organisations are to continue to be successful, leaders play a vital role. It is no longer enough to just avoid problems, if it ever were. Organisations need to be flexible and adaptable if they are to survive and thrive in our changing world. And this means that the people within organisations, the heart of the workplace, need to be flexible and adaptable. Achieving this requires leaders whom they trust and who make them feel valued, who enthuse them to make the workplace even more effective.
Requirements for leadership
Being a leader is primarily based on personal characteristics. This means that leaders need to start by developing themselves rather than a set of technical skills. They need to be self-aware, and recognise their impact on others, because their effectiveness in encouraging their people to enhance the way they work depends on the example they set in their own behaviour.
No one will follow someone who is just out to give themselves kudos, or who doesn’t seem to care about them as people.
We also want to feel that the leader has integrity and ethics, that they won’t go for results at any price, and that they genuinely want to make the workplace better.
Signs of leadership in action
- They want their organisation to be an even better place to work and have a vision of how that could be
- Their team is given the credit for what is achieved
- They make their people feel valued
- They behave as they want others to behave and are conscious of the impact they have on others
- They actively engage their people in their vision for the future of the organisation and give them ownership of achieving the vision
- They are willing to listen and learn – they don’t assume they have all the answers
- They use the strengths of others
- They act with integrity and fairness
Are you a leader?
Does this all sound impossible? Many organisations have so much emphasis on the management of the business that time to be a leader seems more than you can do, an extra ‘task’ on top of the never-ending list you have already.
Yet if you look again at that list of signs of leadership, you will realise that sometimes you are like that, and that none of them are too difficult if we choose to put them into action. They are primarily about a way of being with those you work with, not extra tasks.
Furthermore, were we all to behave like leaders, the workplace would be a less stressful place to be, because people would be feeling more positive about what they were doing, more motivated to make it work well. Isn’t it time we decided to make work a positive and inspiring part of our lives? People make or break the effectiveness of an organisation, and their leaders are the ones who influence which way it goes. So dare to dream that your workplace can be how you wish it were, and that you can make a difference. Be the leader you would like to have, and bring out the best in your people.
At Meta we’re starting up a leaders network, so if you’d like to explore what it means to be a leader today, then why not come and join us? You’ll find information about the leaders network on our events page – www.meta-org/events
Have a great month!
Di and Jo x
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