Most leaders possess a number of great qualities that make them an effective leader. They keep and use tools like communication skills, honesty, attitude, sense of ownership, ability to delegate, and mentoring their people in their ‘leadership tool-kit.’
They also have the innate ability to use and trust their instincts.
Using the Right Tools
Leaders demonstrate these qualities right from managing daily transactions to making strategic decisions. But the effectiveness of using these qualities is actually tested when the chips are down and things are not going well.
In reflecting on how to improve your own leadership results, you have to ask yourself this practical question:
How rich is your tool-kit and how effectively you are using it?
Top 3 Leadership Qualities
In a recent get together with some of my friends from the corporate world, we talked about the qualities that are more important than others especially when wind is not in your favor.
We did the postmortem of some of our experiences from different organizations & zeroed in on:
- Ability to Inspire
as our top three recommendations.
To get these results, we did two case studies to help us reveal what are the top 3 qualities for leaders to have and use in their leadership toolkit.
2 Case Studies
There was a case when the business owner was asked to cut down the cost of operations drastically. There were known inefficiencies in the business unit for a long time but the middle and junior management layer always resisted any change because that unit was growing faster and was more profitable than others.
In this case, business owner along with his next level conducted open house sessions for larger set of people across locations and shared real data about inefficiencies and compared it with better performing organizations. He communicated very clearly:
- with the authentic data (that was never shared with junior management layer before) because he wanted to be transparent with the people who would actually own the change.
- to emphasize that competition is not with our peers in the organization but we want to be best in our business domain. This inspired the team.
- that organization needs higher margins to invest in new areas which would create more positions for some of the people to grow faster.
Business unit started seeing positive results within first three months and became a very efficient unit within a year.
Business owner had created two new senior leadership positions to focus on strategic customers and targeting new areas for growth. She had also assessed and finalized two well known leaders from the market who had agreed to join her.
Just then a hiring freeze was imposed by senior management. Since she had made good relationship with the candidates during the selection process and had convinced them about her plan, it was very difficult for her to say no to these guys. HR person suggested that he will own the problem and would inform candidates that they are not fitting into the roles.
- Instead she chose to communicate directly with candidates and briefed them about the change in organization’s priority and mentioned that she liked them very much for the respective roles. Also told them that she would be in touch and would get them on board as soon she has the approval.
- In parallel, she reverted to senior management with the critical need “to manage strategic customers” and asked for exception approval to hire the selected guy. She agreed on delaying the hiring for “new areas for growth” position but mentioned that she would hire the selected guy (if he is available) whenever she is allowed to hire.
- She got approval for first position immediately and made the guy join.
- Other guy was offered the role after about a year and he accepted the offer happily.
Incidentally I know the second guy quite well and asked him about his feelings at that time when he was told “no” even after getting selected and now when he has joined the organization and playing the same role.
His answer was – “I liked the role from the time she passionately explained it to me. But what I liked more was the honest conversation this lady had with me when position had gone on hold. In fact I didn’t explore any other opportunity during those twelve months and was confident that she will offer that role to me soon”.
I’m sure there would be different opinions about some leadership qualities that are more important than others but that evening we agreed on Honesty, Communication & Ability to Inspire.
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Image Sources: theseouproar.com/
- Qualities of Leadership: Honesty (dredwilliams.wordpress.com)
- The Essentials to Lead from the Front (benchmarkemail.com)