Leadership is about creating environments that influence others to achieve group goals. This works because people support a world they help create. There are five success areas for leaders to focus on that make all the difference.
Self-direction is a must for leaders. If you can’t organize yourself your ability to have others follow you is doubtful. Effective self-directed leaders have a personal vision which they review each day to remind them that the compass is more critical than the clock. They write down this vision and they write down their goals. They do this because they know there in magic in committing generalities to specifics in written form. They have a broad range of goals around their main roles in life, so that the balance between business and non-business is never compromised. They have clearly defined values that guide their behaviour. This makes them predictable, congruent, consistent and reliable for those dealing with them. They understand the importance of self-direction and they are evangelistic about converting those they are responsible for toward being the same.
People skills are one of the most difficult areas for a lot of people to master, mainly because they are either lacking in self-awareness, under-informed, or uneducated. The leader knows the failure to form effective teams and partnerships at all levels, inside and outside of the organization, is going to have a critical negative impact on their personal influence capacity. Organisations which wish to prosper need their people to grow and that requires a safe, open environment which encourages growth. Effective leaders understand there are certain things that turn people off and they stop doing these things. In the same way, they study what works best and they strive to interact with others in that way. Many successful leaders have read Dale Carnegie’s classic on gaining human relations skills and make it their bible for people skills. The primary object of leaders developing people skills is to ensure they can build trust and respect with subordinates.
Process skills challenge the leader to ensure that the system is not putting great people in poor systems and processes, ensuring that they will fail. We cannot "see" a process but we can see people use that process. It is therefore easier to blame the "poor performer" than the process and leaders have to be attuned to the difference. Leaders demonstrate the ability to plan, innovate, define clear performance objectives, delegate, utilise time effectively, analyse problems and make good decisions. Leaders know people support a world they help create, so they enlist their people in reviewing and improving the processes. Effective people skills ensure that processes work through people at optimum levels.
Communication skills make or break leaders. Leaders learn the most by demonstrating effective questioning and listening. They understand that even the associate on their first day on the job can offer insights and innovations that offer value. This is counter intuitive because leaders often fall into the habit of telling everyone what they need to do and how they need to do it. The leaders are usually the most experienced, smart, capable individuals willing to share their knowledge and insights. Learning how to ask questions however instead of giving orders is a discipline that leaders need to master. Leaders also investigate the communication systems in the organisation to ensure that they are providing the right systems and processes to ensure communication is effective throughout the organisation. Being clear, transparent, concise and checking for understanding are great tools for leadership. Motivational speeches have been replaced in business by quality questioning skills. These generate the "self-discovery" process and provide the best coaching opportunities.
Accountability is disseminated throughout the organization by leaders who hold themselves and their team accountable. Leaders quickly and emphatically admit their own mistakes and lead by example. Mr. or Ms. "Perfect" as the leader is hard to follow. Leaders have the self-confidence to show their humanity, to show their weaknesses, to have the communication skills to enlist their teams support. Leaders coach, guide, support, and train others to achieve mutually agreed on goals and objectives. Leaders provide direction and manage change. Leaders also create and monitor systems and processes of control and accountability within their organization so people have the freedom to achieve results.