A LOT has been said about leadership. Tonnes of books have been written on the subject and everyone has an opinion about what makes an effective leader.
Every time I ask the question, “What is effective leadership?”, I get a myriad of different answers. Some say effective leadership is about building trust or being able to make decisions. Others say effective leadership is about galvanising others to achieve goals and objectives. There are still others who point out the difference between a leader and a boss.
Effective leadership embodies all of them: being able to build trust, make decisions and to motivate people towards achieving common goals and objectives.
It is all about balance
After having spent years in the corporate world leading teams and individuals, having seen the good, the bad and the ugly side of leadership, and hearing countless horror stories of leadership gone bad, I have come to the conclusion that effective leadership is all about balance.
It is about understanding the different styles of leadership, how to use the various leadership styles and, most importantly, when to use them.
I am convinced that leadership failures are commonly due to inability and failure to understand your default leadership style and how it affects others around you. It is also not knowing how and when to apply the various leadership styles to obtain the results that you want.
It is about using appropriate styles
Effective leadership is about knowing when to be nice and when to be demanding. It is about understanding when to give and when to take.
It is about knowing when to coach and when to be directive. It is about knowing when to be democratic and when to be authoritative. It is about understanding when to set the pace and when to allow your people to run their own race.
It is about awareness
A leader cannot be effective if he is nice all the time. Nor can a leader be effective by being coercive and demanding all the time. An effective leader is one who is not only socially aware, but also emotionally aware.
Being socially and emotionally aware will enable the leader to effectively read the social situation and understand the political, emotional and social undercurrents. This will enable the leader to know what leadership styles to apply, when to apply those styles and how best to apply the various leadership styles within different social, emotional and political contexts.
It is about understanding individuality
An effective leader must also be able to understand the personality traits of his individual team members because each person is different and each will respond and react differently to different stimuli.
Understanding the basic personality make-up of each team member will enable the leader to understand how best to engage each individual. He knows exactly what motivates each person and what makes him tick.
It is about getting the right people
Effective leadership is also about having the right people in the team. With the right people on board, a leader can only become more effective.
Having the right people in terms of cultural fit, attitude, aptitude, personality, skills, qualifications and experience will help put the team on the right track and enable its members to stay the course and reach for the stars.
If you are wondering why your team is not performing to expectation and you wish to know how to motivate your people to perform better, perhaps you should begin by identifying your own leadership style.
Your leadership style drives the way you communicate with your team, and that in turn determines how your team members perceive your message and how they respond to you. Ultimately, it is your leadership style that determines the results you get.
Article by Steven Lock, the high performance strategist of FutureTHINK! Training & Consultancy, a training and consultancy firm, and the author of Hiring For Performance: The CAAP Model To Hiring And Building High-Performance Teams. He has developed a leadership questionnaire that identifies your default leadership style. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org