The difference between leadership and management is often confused. Management should be seen as the controls and administrative side. Leadership is about identifying the need to adapt the organization to a new more sustainable state, and mobilizing support at all levels of the organization to achieve that objective.
This is particularly true in the age of digitization, and accelerating creative destruction. Finding that more sustainable place and mindset has become more challenging. However, for smart leaders these challenges present unique opportunities.
The scope of new directions have been enlarged by globalization. Exceptional leaders know that in order to succeed in this new landscape requires the energetic cooperation of all the employees.
To be a leader you have to be aware how your personality and management style impacts other people. One of the best ways to see yourself is to get feedback from colleagues or objective experts who can profile your strengths and weaknesses and emotional quotient, and define the areas for improvement.
There are some tried and proven traits that continue to apply, and it is beneficial to evaluate yourself by reflecting on them:
The Smart Leader’s Twelve Essential Traits And Practices
- Communicate the purpose and meaning of all directives, and goals to your subordinates. Make sure that they understand and can carry through.
- Look for results and not for ego endorsements. Don’t allow yourself to be lulled by sycophantic feedback from subordinates who are skilled at playing the vanity game.
- Practice, and instill in others, a sense of urgency in reaching daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals and objectives.
- Lead by example. Work on acquiring the knowledge and ability that is needed to stay at the top of your game in fulfilling your functional responsibilities. Stay ahead of new markets, products and competitive developments. Do and behave, as you want others to do at all times.
- Create a climate of trust. Deliver on promises made. Consistently follow through on commitments made to others.
- Strengthen others. Support the need for training, which will elevate them to a higher degree of efficiency. Provide praise readily, whenever it is merited. Don’t criticize without providing answers for improvement. Avoid circumventing the authority of others.
- Generate unity. Team spirit should always be promoted in a corporate environment. The accomplishment of goals is better achieved through the harmonization of effort by a group. Healthy competition between individuals within a group can be beneficial, but requires a delicate balance in providing the same opportunities to all.
- Listen intently. Always invite comments by others during any discussions or presentations. You then can make them feel part of the proposed solutions.
- Understand what skills you want each employee to have and focus on developing them. Put together measurable goals and an action plan by which their performance can be gauged periodically.
- Recognize and utilize the individual strengths of each employee. Encourage them to use them more often, and continue to perfect them.
- Create an environment that makes people feel comfortable working with you. If they fail at something, find out why and work it out with them.
- Recognize achievement with specific feedback. Point out to employees what goal they have achieved and what behavior caused it to happen. Adding some kind of tangible reward adds more impact to recognition.
Leadership skills are not just about style, charm, self-confidence and assertion of power. It certainly does not hurt to possess these traits to a degree.
However, leaders are not born with a given set of abilities, they have, in most cases, done their homework on discovering winning leadership idiosyncrasies and ably put them to practice.