Knowing what you stand for and what is important to you drives leadership choices. This is true in a business context where the need for effective leadership is as strong as ever. Every great accomplishment has, at its core, effective leadership.
In a survey recently quoted in Forbes, HR professionals were asked to identify the challenges they expect to face over the next ten years. Developing leaders took the number 2 spot and was identified by 52% of respondents. This represented a significant jump from only 29% of respondents naming leadership development as a pressing HR challenge two years earlier. Is this even more the case in the current climate of change and uncertainty, or was there turbulence like this before ours?
In a skills gap study by Deloitte, 81% of respondents stated they could not find people with the necessary leadership, management, communication and interpersonal skills. We’re used to hearing that change is a constant and I would argue the same is true for effective leadership.
Where do we find great leaders?
The view is often expressed that leaders are born, not made. But we all have leadership potential. One successful approach to developing that potential is by actually discovering it through self knowledge. Rather than presenting a model of ideal leadership that feels like an ill-fitting suit, becoming an effective leader involves knowing how to lead yourself by discovering what you stand for. If you can lead yourself, you can lead others.
True leadership is about building relationships with others. This is why your relationship with yourself is so important. None of us operate in a vacuum and our achievements depend on and are intrinsically linked with others. So how you see yourself, what you tell yourself, and what you believe is possible for yourself will in turn inform your relationships with others. For example: the leader who has to be perfect and finds it hard to celebrate success will be like that with their team. For some individuals that’s fine, but for others it’s a real demotivator. It can be good to find the fault because that helps develop the best solution, but if it’s all you do, it can slow down the process.
How to develop your leadership skills
By understanding yourself and clarifying what is most important to you, your true leadership will start to emerge. That self awareness will in turn offer greater insight into the people around you. From that insight you’ll develop your natural influence, which is a key part of becoming an effective leader. When you can see a situation from someone else’s perspective, you have far more choice about how to work with them than if it’s just about your way of doing things.
What do your people need from you?
A poll conducted by Gallup asked more than 10,000 people what their most influential leaders had contributed to them. From the results, they identified four basic needs from leaders: trust, compassion, stability and hope. These are fundamental human needs not necessarily associated with the workplace, but emphasise the need to focus on understanding your people. People have needs and are likely to perform better where they are being met.
Leadership is about making a difference for other people; leadership matters because people matter.
Want to develop your skills? Ask yourself these questions:
- Who are you as a leader?
- Who do you want to be as a leader?
- How do you stop yourself becoming the leader you want to be?