Learning to lead
It’s no secret that leadership can have a make-or-break impact on an organisation’s success. Ensuring that the impact is positive requires more investigation and ideally the help of experience-based insights.
In fact, good leadership is itself a form of expertise. While distinct from technical specialisations or other skills required to carry out discrete functions within an organisation, it can, like them, be taught and, with practice, mastered. But first, it’s important to understand the dynamics of leadership. A good leader doesn’t sit in the stands or watch from the shore. Instead, they understand their role perhaps as the team trainer or ship’s captain—not the one scoring goals or navigating the course, but the person actively coordinating the players or crew in order to get the job done.
Of course, it’s impossible to coordinate effectively from a distance or without all the relevant information. This means leaders depend on good communication and knowledge sharing throughout their organisation. And though they may not realise it instinctively, they are the ones responsible for keeping the flow of information moving. Their sustained presence is certainly essential here as well as how they themselves communicate: Questions or commands? Praise or blame? Feedback or open inquiry?
Aligning leadership and values
Indeed, leaders’ own behaviour sets the tone for company culture and has a far greater impact on it than slogans or campaigns that amount to little more than words on a page. Leaders actually embody the organisation’s culture. They demonstrate what’s important by what they are seen to prioritise, implicitly as well as explicitly. When there is a discrepancy between the company’s stated values and vision on one hand and the behaviour of leadership on the other, the effects can be quite damaging. A strong leader knows how to align their behaviour, decision-making, priorities and conversations with the organisation’s core values. Ultimately, they serve as a model for what they want to see at all levels of the company.
An effective leader, then, has to cultivate a certain skillset that transcends the specifics of any single sector or industry, and expert leaders have a passion for the demands of the job as well. Today, good leadership is more important than ever, as external events can, as we’ve seen, very quickly disrupt established patterns of work and production. Resilience and a readiness to embrace transformation allow companies to weather such events and to face with confidence other types of disruption stemming from technological advances, for example, or social and political upheaval.
To learn more about what it takes to lead effectively, including key behaviours and proven approaches, join us at our next leadership webinar on 19 October, 2021. The webinar aims to demystify what good leadership entails and provides concrete advice on how to lead for success.