It is interesting isn’t it that a lot of advice on leadership comes from people who have never had a chance to lead themselves.
This is true of advice on leadership in general and, I would say, it is true particularly of advice on change leadership. Much of the advice comes from academics and, recently, it seems much has come from HR professionals and coaches.
Of course most of those writing have had many opportunities to observe leaders in action and with an educated eye.
So, I’ve been looking recently at what they say are the characteristics of an effective leader and views differ.
One gives the top three characteristics required as; humility, non-judgmental observation and a willingness to face problems.
Another quotes honesty, competence and being forward looking.
A third quotes interpersonal skills, communication skills and values
But I’m left wondering.
You see I would like to see every manager in the organization have all nine of those qualities!
I was surprised that giving clear direction figured on only in one of the lists and intelligence and vision weren’t near the top of any. In my view these are critical.
I want my leaders to be bright, as well as competent.
Yes, I do want them to be able to look ahead and see the ground clearly. But then I want them to be able to form a vision; a vision that is communicated in a way that helps me to believe in it.
Yes, I do want a dialogue conducted by my leader using their well practised and convincing interpersonal and communication skills. But then I want them to decide the way ahead in the light of their vision and give the organization a clear sense of direction.
I found the emphasis on honesty very interesting in the present climate – interesting and sad that we can no longer take honesty for granted in our leaders.
I looked up the meaning of humility just to be sure I understood it properly. It means someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others. Well, yes, then I agree but I’m not sure that I would put it top of my list. What about you?
Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 .
- Are you a good leader? Time for a Mini- Stocktake! (wisewolftalking.com)
- Leadership – Books, Manuals and Procedures (wisewolftalking.com)