Why is it that certain people have recurring and continued success at leading all sorts of companies and organizations? What do efficient leaders do that sets them apart from others?
First and foremost, one must have the notion that no official nomination process can guarantee leadership. It is either the consequence of the identification of a leading ability or simply an opportunity to lead which will have to be proven and tested. Leadership is not a position, nor is it a title. It is an interactive process by which a person exerts an “influential dominance” on voluntary followers. One exercises leadership.
Secondly, it is important to highlight that character is the foundation of leadership. Character flaws remove the support for any leadership process. On the other hand, exemplary character and ethical base support a leader even through challenging conditions in his/her exercise of leadership.
Leadership Business Consulting’s experience with companies and in the development of leadership in complex organizational environments illustrates that efficient leaders focus their action and show above average performance in six key areas:
1. They are focused on obtaining results;
2. They define and communicate an attractive and mobilizing path;
3. They innovate and increase organizational capacity;
4. They attract, inspire and manage talent;
5. They are competent in their organization’s business area;
6. They develop other leaders.
1. Efficient Leaders are focused on achieving Results
Efficient leaders have two important interdependent and synergetic attributes: followers, and ethically sustainable, strategically and socially aligned, results.
More than being a leader, an individual “becomes” a leader through a process, which is based on a reciprocal relationship: leaders supply a path and results, followers provide observance.
Results which benefit all stakeholders
Efficient leaders need to create, in a balanced way, ethically sustainable value for a wide set of stakeholders:
Furthermore, an efficient leader needs to comply with dominant social values, such as environmental protection and social responsibility.
The timeframe in which these results are obtained is fundamental for the timely compensation of the collective efforts and to avoid the wearout or weakening of the leader’s initial creditibility. For this reason, the so-called quick wins are fundamental to avoid exhausting while, conversely, reinforcing their initial credibility.
Obtaining results is a necessary - but not sufficient - condition for being a leader. Leading is attracting, inspiring and motivating others for a shared and distinct future. It is determinedly influencing the options of others. That is why a real leader will go beyond merely satisfying interests. A leader will conquer hearts and minds, through an array of different attributes applied on a case by case basis, with an emphasis on the ability to define and communicate an attractive path and vision. This vision should alter the values held by followers in order to have a transformational impact. The attainment of interests has a transactional impact, and when they fail to be met, the impact of a leader weakens. On the other hand, an inspiring vision and the resulting new values established sustains the leader’s influence even in the absence of short term results.
What efficient leaders do to obtain results?
To obtain results in highly competitive, complex and uncertain contexts, leaders must:
· Know the competitive landscape;
· Be focused on the future;
· Have a clear strategic perspective;
· Define an attractive path based on a clear vision and in aspiring objectives and rigorous action plans;
· Be innovative to earn a competitive advantage;
· Show an entrepreneurial spirit;
· Face above-the-average risks, and
· Follow their objectives in a determined manner.
3. Efficient Leaders Innovate and Increase Organizational Capacity
In addition to achieving immediate results, an efficient leader worries about increasing the future capacity to obtain results, with his leadership or lack thereof. He/she relies on innovation that leads to competitive advantage in order to obtain improved results, promotes the needed organizational transformation and makes things happen.
What do efficient leaders do to transform organizations?
In this context, efficient leaders demonstrate a great capacity to:
· Question the status quo;
· Take the initiative;
· Innovate in work methods;
· Mobilize people for the needed transformation of resources, systems and work processes;
· Impact on the organizational culture; Promote knowledge exchange;
· Provide timely and effective feedback;
· Manage incentives and penalties in a fair, thorough and effective manner; and
· Make change happen regardless of the obstacles that surface along the way.
4. Efficient leaders attract, inspire and manage talent and develop other leade
Efficient leaders know that their potential is determined by the people that surround them. They are aware that talent is the main source of competitive advantage in any knowledge society. For this reason, they look for and retain the best talent, assuming the responsibility themselves.
What do entrepreneurial leaders do to attract, inspire and manage talent?
Efficient entrepreneurial leaders do not depend nor are they limited to formal systems of control and command. They build enduring relationships of trust with their co-workers, obtaining their commitment and their compliance even in the absence of hierarchy and formally established power. In order to do so, they must:
· Be good listeners;
· Promote collaboration;
· Invest on the development of others;
· Acknowledge success;
· Share power and delegate responsibilities;
· Celebrate victories; and
· Create momentum through positive psychological capital.
5. Efficient Leaders are competent
An efficient leader must be competent in the company’s sector of activity.
What are the necessary competencies for a leader to be effective?
Besides business capabilities - knowledge on the activity and its management - some personal skills are important as well:
· Character, honesty, integrity and courage;
· A positive image;
· Emotional intelligence;
· Good nature;
· Excellent group communication skills and the ability to convey objectives one on one;
· Demanding in terms of performance levels;
· Capable of taking responsibilities;
· Self-confident and humble; and
· Capacity for making good decisions - in real time and in the decisive moments.
6. Efficient leaders develop other leaders
The ultimate test for an efficient entrepreneurial leader is his capacity to impact on the development of others, and develop leaders not only at various levels of the business but also for the future. In the short term, the development and leadership of other leaders has a multiplying effect on results. In the long term, succession reveals the lasting value of a leader. An organization that develops leaders in a systematic manner in various organizational levels has greater chances of success in the short and long term, because it has people capable of anticipating and leading change processes and competitive innovation.
What do efficient leaders do to develop other leaders?
They dedicate a great deal of their time to the role of “teacher” or “coach” of key employees, in continuous internal training processes and rely on formal and duly structured Leadership Development Training Plans, aligned with the company’s long term strategy.
In leadership, more important than studying, knowing, explaining, justifying, preparing and managing, is the ability to make things happen, to obtain results that satisfy all stakeholders, conquering the hearts and minds of others - in essence, trust, respect and admiration.