Leadership…well, this is a sour subject for many of us. I think that most of us have encountered, at some point in their careers, people in leadership roles who were incompetent and misguided about their real abilities. This impacts every aspect of our lives, be it personal or career related and we should really talk about it.

These are my talking points:

  1. One is dealing with the old guard, individuals already in leadership roles who usually need to fight passing time and dealing with younger professionals and new ideas.
  2. Second build a framework, to help you improve your leadership skills and become a individual, people will want to follow.
  3. Third, we all know people have a tendency to react very differently to a crisis. You may be a great leader but if you are not responding in a fitting way to an impending critical situation, your followers will loose their trust, respect and confidence in your ability to lead.

1.Leadership Skills Assessment Framework

There are various reasons for using this leadership tools. Part of it is due to the fact that there is a lack of honesty when it comes to self-assessment. It is rather difficult to maintain a grounded view of ones real skills, and have the discipline and determination to keep up with the ever changing times.

People who posses the innate skills required to lead and influence, and have reached a leadership role should make use of these three ideas:

Team leadership, lead only when it’s required not all the time

We all have met people who simply must take charge, no matter the circumstances. Whether it’s a family activity, amateur sports or a strategic meeting, they just cant relinquish the alpha dog status.

These people usually have common traits, opinionated, impatient, and with every time they are called or described as natural born leaders, maybe to their own or everyone else’s detriment, they will eventually begin to believe it.

Most of the time they are noting of the sort. True leaders shouldn’t presume that they have the right to lead every time two or more people get together. They should asses every situation, and take charge when their role, skills or the situation allows or requires it.

What is most amazing is that even if you believe that in most situations you think you are the right person to lead, most probably you fall in a got-to-be-in-front leader type and not a true leader.

I have found very interesting ted talks on leadership, and this one is strongly linked to what I have been saying above.

Leaders see things with much more complexity attached

Many executives often confuse two simple principles: leadership and action. In their own mind they believe that constant action generates leadership as a byproduct. As a result, the more ambitious they are towards a leadership role the more furious their momentum becomes.

They work harder, longer, faster than anybody under their command, and when faced with any sort of situation where brute force activity doesn’t yield results their impatience reaches record levels. Simply put, their leadership style is based on volume, if you don’t work as hard as them, or at least as hard as they feel, then their demands will only grow and become more aggressive.

You would be inclined to believe that such a blunt mentality would preclude our action-centered professionals from acquiring any degree of seniority, but you would be mistaken. Unfortunately, many companies, some from the FTSE 100, encourage such a rudimentary leadership style.

A true leader must understand the value of action, but this should not be their primary or only tool. Things are often much more complex than expected and a true leader should see more, like opportunities, threats, patterns, solutions and answers. They know is crucial to take action, but at the same time don’t disregard the importance of thinking, understanding, and interpretation.

A leader can change people

I have another short ted talk on leadership. It is expanding on this particular topic.

Question:

Bill achieves his targets and burns out his team.

Gary build a great team, but they miss their Target.

Which is the better leader?

Sadly these examples are still present in many organizations. (This is no perfect world) Option C sadly exists but at a lower frequency. That may be due to the fact that it is much harder to achieve, and imposes a lot more effort on the leaders part. To define option C is rather easy: an individual who develops his team so that they can achieve their targets, milestones or objectives.

Being fixated on achieving certain outcomes to the extent that you are ready to bully or manipulate other to achieve them for you, than you are no leader but a dictator. Similarly, being a door mat doesn’t make you a leader either. Strive to build strong, capable teams that are objective oriented.

2. Improve Your Leadership Skills

Just because you have innate ability to lead that does not mean people will want to follow. Leadership is much more than your role, is about trust, respect and confidence.

There are some good news around the subject of leadership skills, as there may be a way for you to acquire new leadership skills and improve existing ones. It will take a high degree of discipline and dedication to learn new skills, as well as determination to practice them every day.

So without further ado here are my ideas:

Respect those around you even if you don’t like it

It feels quite easy to be respectful when working with other similarly motivated employees or favorite clients. But just think about that customer who burns through your time and patience with some out there requests. Or just that one employee that keeps showing late for work.

Respect should not be conditioned by anything. Every individual is worthy of respect, even those who drive us mad or who haven’t done one thing to earn it. Preserving their dignity and honoring their humanity is really what respect is all about.

This is something that can be your first building block. You treating everybody with respect will foster an environment of caring, that will permeate your entire workplace. It encourages people to better themselves, to improve their interaction patterns.

Communicate in a way that inspires

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

Dwight Eisenhower

Communication is important to get your message across clearly and concisely, avoid conflict and articulate expectations. But there is much more to it. Communication can be a way to inspire, motivate or persuade.

When you can communicate in a way that a particular outcome is achieved or a certain action is taken, this is when the true impact of great communication shows.

Be generous

Generosity most often means monetary generosity, gifts, bonuses or raises. While this is certainly one aspect, it can mean much much more.

What I mean by that is being liberal with encouragement, credit employees for their ideas and contribution, or simply be considerate when people make mistakes. While this may mean relinquishing some control it will allow those around you to step up and take on some extra responsibility.

“It takes generosity to discover the whole through others.

If you realize you are only a violin, you can open yourself up to the world by playing your role in the concert.”

Jacques Yves Cousteau

Express your passion

Passion is contagious. When you are genuinely exited about what you are doing enthusiasm can’t help but rub off a bit. While that is important, expressing that passion to those around you is equally important.

When employees sense that you have an abiding passion for what you do, they get the sense that what they are doing is worthwhile; that you all are on a path towards something bigger than yourselves.

Humility, no pushover though

Being humble at work doesn’t mean not taking credit for your ideas, work or being a doormat. What I mean with this is taking responsibility for personal mistakes and acknowledging employee’s contributions and work.

A study published by Academy of Management, researchers reported that humble leaders were overall more effective and better liked.

“Growing and learning often involves failure and can be embarrassing, but leaders who can overcome their fears and broadcast their feelings as they work through the messy internal growth process will be viewed more favorably by their followers.

They also will legitimize their followers’ own growth journeys and will have higher-performing organizations.”

Bradley Owens, Author of Academy of Management Journal (AMJ)

Be decisive

Leaders must make tough decisions, and must take responsibility for the outcomes. No matter how carefully a decision is reached and options weighed, poor decisions will be made, and someone must be accountable.

A leader is not afraid to take these decisions, and knows that avoiding risks also means missing potential opportunities. She/he seeks out opinions of those around her/him in order to make an informed decision, but takes the final responsibility for the outcome.

Show courage

All leaders will be scared at some point. Maybe because of risks, failure and competition. But  true leaders forge ahead in spite of this fear, and show courage in the face of adversity.

“Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.”

Arthur Koestler

Great leaders will always find ways to harness the energy produced by fear, and turn it into something that spurs them forward. They will show courage, and that will encourage those around them to do the same.

Courageous leaders know they are nothing without their team, and they are willing to admit they do not know everything. They know that sometimes their decisions will be unpopular, but will continue forward nonetheless.

3.Leadership and Crisis Management

A leader should be a role model for their team or employees. That is our starting point. Going forward, we also know people change how they react when facing a crisis. Panic, rushing decisions or loss of focus are just a few side effects of poor crisis management.

Now what makes the difference between great leaders and the rest of us, their innate ability, resilience and willpower to change even the worst circumstances for the better. We can read stories to validate that fact.

I have some ideas related to leadership in a crisis environment. Let’s take a look.

Crisis an Opportunity to Grow

A crisis is a learning opportunity that can provide life-long lessons. A leader should see bad times as an chance to discover weak areas in his organization, then solves them. A crisis is one of the best opportunities to rectify loopholes and make his organization even bigger and better.

Always see the upside

Crisis can sometimes be a good thing. It can reveal some of the problems or shortcomings in an organization, and maybe some opportunities. A leader should be conscious that a crisis can be a blessing in disguise. You should not panic when facing a crisis, it usually means there is something wrong with your approach, and it will always provide insights on how and what needs changing for a better feature.

You are as strong as your will

Keeping yourself strong-willed helps you respond to difficult times in a better way. No one will be a true leader if they fear failure. Similarly, a leader will never fear a crisis; do not let yourself affected by its downstream effects. Instead, take a passive approach, you need to  persevere and ignore its possible implications.

Determination

Every leader has determination. Truly great leaders never hesitate to make attempts no matter how many times they fail in the process.

They have faith that they will overcome one day. It is that trait of constant efforts and attempts that helps them achieve their goals against all the odds.

Believe in Yourself

Leaders firmly believe in themselves, remaining optimistic even in the worst circumstances. With this they can create a support system in witch people can believe, and allow them to build camaraderie to come out of a crisis. You should know that when you lose faith in yourself, you cannot expect others to trust or follow you.

Patience

A crisis is temporary. The circumstances around us changes constantly. What went wrong today might become your opportunity tomorrow.

It’s all about waiting for the right time and make the your move at the right time, simply put, be patient.

Do not lose sight of your objectives

A crisis can change our perspective to such an extent that we sometimes lose sight of our objectives. We must make sure to keep it alive, remind ourselves time and time again about that goal we want to achieve. This mental exercise will help in keeping our vision alive.

Conclusion

Even if you take these tips into account, the most important aspect of a crises is this: when a crisis strikes, it comes with good and bad things. It is you who decides how to react.

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I am a Project Management practitioner with more than 5 years experience in hardware and software implementation projects. Also a bit of a geek and a great WordPress enthusiast. I hope you enjoy the content, and I encourage you to share your knowledge with the world.

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