In our fast-paced world, business leaders seem to have little time to focus on the importance of effective leadership. Yet clarity of purpose is a leader’s most powerful asset and has two facets. From an organisational perspective, the purpose of a leader is to champion the company’s goals and to keep promises made to clients, suppliers, and other interested parties. From a people perspective, the leader’s purpose is to create an environment that inspires the team to perform optimally to keep its promises to stakeholders.
With more than a decade of experience in helping businesses grow and develop their people, I believe there’s a need for clearly-defined leadership building blocks. There are also five essential principles a leader must embody to build an effective organisation and a sustainable business. A leader:
- Sets direction and purpose as the path for everyone to follow.
- Leads by example by being the custodian of the organisation’s culture and modelling the organisation’s leadership brand, values and behaviours.
- Inspires followers by connecting and coaching people at a deeper, emotional level. This starts with understanding their needs, aspirations and fears.
- Leads all the time and knows that leadership is an attitude, not a position -they are not bound by constraints like working hours and departmental silos.
- Communicates continually and consistently.
To make these principles practical, here are a few easy-to-remember questions to help you focus:
Direction and Purpose: Have I made an effort today to engage my team around direction and purpose? It’s vital for every leader to set direction and to ensure the team has purpose. This ensures everyone’s always aware of where they’re going and, more importantly, why.
Lead by Example: Am I living the values my organisation expects from me? Look in the mirror from time to time to determine whether you’re displaying the values and behaviours you expect from your team. You have to live what you want to inspire – if you don’t, they won’t.
Inspire Followers: How can I actively focus on keeping myself and my team inspired? This is possibly the most difficult attribute to achieve. You can’t inspire others if you’re not inspired yourself. Inspiration creates energy and movement, so to be an effective leader, you have to touch minds, hands and hearts. Take the time to engage with your team and find out what matters to them.
Lead All the Time: How consistent is my leadership? Leadership is not a light switch – it’s a purpose that’s almost like a calling and it’s 100% intentional. Great leaders are individuals who are consistent in who they are and how they show up.
Communication: Does my communication generate a consistent flow of information across all areas of my business? The importance of communication can’t be overestimated. Leaders are catalysts for change and performance and, as such, need outstanding communication skills to engage their teams. Never forget: you are the message, so always be mindful of your words, tone and body language.
When you reach a point where each of these philosophies become habit, you start to understand the value and the true meaning of leadership and the impact it has on the sustainability of business.
This article first appeared in Destiny Man magazine in March 2017.