Effective leadership skills: why would you want to be a leader?
Leadership is a tough gig. Taking up a leadership position is one of the toughest roles we can choose but many of us enter into it without giving much thought to whether we truly want or understand all that comes with it.
For some of us, leading comes naturally. For most, however, it takes significant effort and focus – even under the best of conditions. This is because leading people and organisations is not easy. People are for the most part, unpredictable and ambiguous. Organisations have to evolve, adapt and deal with change on a daily basis. As a result, leaderships is complex, can be frustrating, is undeniably time-consuming and places us under the glare of a continuous spotlight.
Leadership really has nothing to do with the title or position you hold. Leadership is about action, about what you do, or just as importantly, what you don’t do. What makes leadership so difficult is that, in every capacity, it asks that you, as a leader, put yourself last. There is no room for ego. You can’t lose your patience or get upset because other people aren’t working the way you think they ought to. You can’t let your frustrations or anxieties show, even if everyone else is clearly showing theirs and aiming it in your direction. You can’t simply sit back and complain when times get really tough. As a leader it is up to you to step up and be the positive force for change and improvement.
Neither is Leadership ever as simple as right or wrong.
This may be news to you, but no leader ever has all the answers, and as a leader you won’t always get it right. How comfortably does that sit with you? There will be times when you feel you get every decision spot on and other times when it will feel like no matter what you do, nothing works. And that’s part of being human. The difference in leadership is that accountability for failures, for getting it wrong, must lie with the leader. Successes on the other hand, must belong to the team.
Leadership is about taking risks, about managing fear and ambiguity, and not playing it safe. Leadership is being constantly at the edge of chaos, never sure which way the wind might turn but carrying the expectation of being always ready to respond and set a new course. Leadership is about having those hard conversations that no-one wants to have.
So why do it??
Although becoming an experienced and competent leader takes development, time, effort, discipline, and action, you will be rewarded. On a personal level, leadership provides us with the opportunity to develop a broad range of skills and knowledge. As leaders we learn how to energise people to perform at their best, we navigate process, people and purpose to build an organisation’s culture and dynamics where people thrive. We learn how to be a role model, how to live our personal and organisational values and how to be a coach or a mentor to others. There’s no better feeling as a leader than seeing your teams engaged and achieving their potential.
And of course, organisations benefit too. Our organisations also benefit from our leadership endeavours. Here’s a few leadership skills that, if you practice, will improve your organisation for the better.
Effective leadership helps organisations move forward
Leaders shape the purpose and vision for their organisations and know how to bring people with them to achieve their goals. They stay one step ahead of the competition and encourage creativity and innovation.
Effective leadership drives culture
Being an effective leader gives the opportunity to drive, model and promote a culture of collaboration, trust, and engagement which in turn makes for the creation of a much better working environment for all.
Effective leadership leads to effective teams
Most of us work best when we work for and with people we know, like, respect and trust.
Effective leadership inspires others to be at their best.
Being a leader means inspiring and empowering people to realise their full potential and providing opportunities for growth and development.
Right now, leaders are at the sharp end of a global pandemic and it’s not going to feel very rewarding. You’re going to need to draw on every ounce of your resilience and leadership practice for months to come. But you will get through this. There’s no doubt that being a leader is rewarding and effective leadership is crucial in organisations. It means embarking on a journey of continuous learning in the service of others, it means practicing the art of being flexible to ensure the experience of those you lead really matters. It’s a rollercoaster ride, but one that is definitely worth taking.