1. Understanding Leadership What is leadership? Leadership skills can be learned and improved. There’s a range of key leadership skills and practices but they fall mainly into four clusters of competencies. Self-awareness, building relationships, business acumen and organizational strategy. In leadership, reputation really is everything. These leadership skills are relevant to every organization, and every leadership role, whether you’re new to leading, or the CEO of a multinational corporation. When are you leading? Leadership and management are closely intertwined.
As a manager, you create a stable work environment that is clear and consistent, so employees can be as productive as possible. The reality is that you need to balance both skills appropriately. Finding your leadership level Large organizations often have five levels of leadership, each requiring a different balance of the four clusters of skills. Smaller organizations might have a blend of these levels. At Level 1, you’re an individual contributor who focuses on self-leadership. At Level 2, you’re either an expert or a manager.
As a Level 3 leader, you’ll want to refine your communication skills, acting as a reliable conduit for information to flow quickly up and down the organization. Level 4’s are the leaders of the functions or divisions, like marketing, finance, or sales. At Level 4, you’d continue to mentor and engage your direct reports, build key relationships both within and outside your organization, deepen your knowledge of other functions, and attune to key factors that will shape the future of the industry and market. At Level 5 is the leader of the organization, such as the president or CEO.
Changing scope and stakes Take a moment to reflect on your role. You may want to revisit the handout, where you estimated the amount of time you spend managing and leading. What scope do you have in your role? Identify what you can see across and outside the organization. What are the stakes for your daily decision and choices? How do those differ from the levels below and above you? Finally, are you engaging in the right proportion of tactical skills and strategic skills? If not, what do you need to shift in order to get the right balance?
The answers to these questions should become the framework for your leadership development plan. Organizational Dynamics The first stage is inception. Where a new organization is created from an inspiring idea. This is where you do all the ground work before you can open. Next is the launching phase, where you open for business. Implementing the dream takes a constant infusion of resources. The organization moves to the growth stage. And the focus is getting on established and profitable. The fourth stage is maturation, where the organization is established, but now seeks to grow in its market.
The next stage is peak performance, where it turns its energy internally to maximize its own development. The goal here is to improve all its functions like talents, systems, and products, in order to be ready for future growth and opportunities. The last stage can either be termination, which happens to organizations that don’t have a way of reinventing themselves. Or the last stage can be rejuvenation, where the organization is nimble and adaptive enough to change as needed to sustain growth. 2. Developing Your Leadership skills
Mapping leadership competencies First and foremost, remember that your integrity is your most precious asset. You want to tend to your reputation carefully, because you’re through to move into higher levels of leadership, you must become known as a person who’s trustworthy and has integrity. Be sure your words and actions align with your values so that you act ethically. Next, self-awareness is your awareness and management of your inner world. It includes the competences of knowledge of self, accurate self-assessment, self-confidence, emotional selfcontrol, achievement drive, Adaptability, and learning orientation.
Next is building relationships, which is the ability to build positive and effective relationships with direct reports, peers, customers, higher management, and all stakeholders both within and outside the organization. The competencies here are reading people, empathy and compassion, communication skills, developing others, maximizing team performance, managing conflict, appreciating difference, building influence, and service orientation. The third cluster is business acumen. Which is the ability to perform functions, and attain goals with minimum guidance.
This includes the competencies of functional or technical skills, adherence to culture, planning and organizing, decision making, initiative and innovation, managing work, and knowledge of industry. Finally, there’s organization strategy, which is the ability to set the vision and direction for the long term success of the organization. Leading with vision and values There’s no one right set of values, but you do have to be clear about what your set of values are. To be a good leader, you must be grounded in who you are and what matters to you.
When you truly know yourself and what you stand for, it’s much easier to make decisions and take action. Cultivating emotional intelligence Emotional intelligence is the mother skill of effective leadership and should be your first priority. Emotional intelligence is essentially how smart you are about reading and working with emotions, both your own and those of others. The key to developing emotional intelligence is understanding that humans are complex beings driven by a variety of physical and emotional factors. Period. Organizations always succeed or fail based on how well they address the human factor.
Motivating and engaging others Effective leaders motivate and engage all of the people who are connected to the organization. motivation. Research in psychology and human potential show us that humans are motivated by three driving forces. One the most basic level is tended to, we can focus more energy on the next level, which is, the need to belong. This includes the social needs of having friends, family and loved ones, and being able to spend quality time with them. In addition, this level includes our sense of achievement and competence in professional settings.
Organizations are also most successful when their people can e focused on the top level, achieving their full potential. Engagement is the level of positive attachment employees feel toward their job and organization, which serves as a profound motivator for productivity and growth. Interestingly, research has shown that the ten causes of employee disengagement are: Feeling invisible. Our efforts are not measured or recognized. The work you do seems irrelevant. When employees feel respected and empowered they can face challenges with a collaborative spirit and positive attitude. Developing your team One of the ways to motivate and engage your people is to focus on their professional development.
There are a few questions you should be able to ask to help develop your team. Number one, what are your employees strengths and weaknesses in the four areas? Number two, what are the factors that motivate and engage your employees. Number three, what is their learning style? Number four, how well do they manage their triggers? Number five, what are their work life balance needs? Number six, what are their long-range career dreams? Increasing team performance How to tell you have a team Number 1, a common purpose. This would be the clear goal they are to achieve.
Number 2, their efforts must be interdependent. Otherwise, it’s just coordinate efforts of individual contributors, and that’s not a team. Number 3, they must share accountability. Everyone is held responsible for the group’s success or failure. And number 4, the members must believe that the outcome will be better together than working alone. You’ll want to be sure that everyone is clear about the purpose, scope, and quality and other important aspects of the goal. Facilitating change Because of the emotional nature of change, you want to do everything you can to create a culture of trust.
This means clarifying the organization’s intentions with a change, being reliable by matching your words to your actions, and being trustworthy by honoring your agreements. You can’t build trust overnight, so if your organization has low trust, you should first prioritize building it, before you tackle big changes. Developing political acumen Another key leadership skill is developing political acumen. Acumen means accuracy and keenness of judgement or insight, so political acumen is the ability to accurately perceive and judge the formal and informal influences that shape decision making.
It’s about correctly reading your contexts and being able to make sound decisions based on what is really going on. Scanning your environment and industry Organizations are complex and communication doesn’t always flow efficiently. Number one, frequently review all of the organization’s publicity materials like the website and press releases. Number two, also review the internal communication often housed in the employee portal. Number three, listen in meetings for comments about pressures, challenges, and opportunities that shape the actions of the organization.
Number four, engaging discussions with higher management, peers, and employees about current and future developments. Building key relationships A large part of any leader’s success is a function of the relationships they build with employees, peers, and upper management, as well as customers, board members, investors, and leaders in the industry. The relationships you need to build are related to your leadership level, but I always think it’s a good idea to build the relationships of one level above you. This will allow you to expand your professional network, which not only serves your current level but prepares you for the next one.
Creating a culture of trust and integrity An organization’s culture becomes the diving force that shapes the attitudes and behaviors of everyone in the organization. And it’s the most effective way to improve productivity, engagement, and other key measures of success. A leader’s efforts are most effective when they can spend or focus and energy on creating the culture, because they can create more widespread change than working with one department at a time. When you have a great culture, you can retain your best people, and you attract other top talent who want to work there.
Productivity soars, because people are motivated and engaged. Employees are loyal and take great pride in the organization and the work they do, thus driving innovation and effort. Practicing sustainability effective leaders know that the busy and stressful times are when you should double down on self-care. This is the primary strategy of sustainability. Keeping yourself physically and emotionally strong so that you not only avoid burnout but can actually perform at your peak level. Developing resilience Resilience is the ability to recover quickly from adversity, and clearly this is a skill that all leaders need.
People who are resilient not only perform competently under stress, but they recover quickly from negative circumstances, and they use those experiences to grow, becoming more resilient in the future. Resilience is related to adaptability and agility, both key factors in successful organizations. It turns out that resilience is actually a two phase process. The first phase is self protective. The second phase focus on promoting well being to effectively bounce back from the effects of adversity when it does happen.