Entrepreneurs and business are experiencing rapid change and more than ever leadership excellence is essential. Among the changes are: new patterns of delivering service, demands for quality and value for money; increasing levels of technology, intensifying competition, growing ecological awareness, high expectations of work, demographic changes – 20 million people are refugees worldwide in 2015, reconfiguration of economies changing political interventions – more than 1.5 billion people still live in fragile and conflict affected countries (United Nations, news and media); inflation and recession reports indicate that the global economy could be on the verge of a once in a generation transformation.
The effect of the changes is that most entrepreneurs and business are expected to exercise leadership excellence and cope with changes, whilst facing uncertainty and huge pressures. Leadership excellence is required to steer entrepreneurial innovations and business to grow and develop during such turbulence and to achieve their goals and vision.
So what is leadership?
We (Neslyn.com) recognise that leadership is a much-debated concept and people’s perceptions will be influenced by the constructions that they have and the values that they ascribe to leadership.
Here, we offer a working definition of leadership:
Leadership is the willingness to be in service to generate transformation to create an environment and the space for people to perform at their best.
We believe that leadership is about enabling others to be their best, best in skills and expertise, best in providing and developing a service, best in creating value and serving customers. Leadership excellence is grounded in valuing people, creating diverse teams and harnessing diverse skills to bring about innovation and excellence in product development, sales, marketing, service delivery and customer care.
Furthermore, your being as a leader will be influenced by your personality, values and your view of the world.
The literature on leadership abounds with leadership styles and types. Your leadership style has an important bearing on how you create a climate in which people can grow and offer value. Hence it is important for you as the leader to be cognisant of your being – who you are? And, how you show up in who you are being?
To become an even more outstanding leader you need to analyse your leadership style and determine the scope and capacity of your leadership.
Do you know your leadership style?
Manfred Kets de Vries describes eight Archetypes of Leadership – namely, the strategist, the change catalyst, the transactor, the builder, the innovator, the processor, the coach and the communicator.
Which of the aforementioned styles best fit you?
An important key to successful leadership is to know how, when and how much of a particular style is needed at specific points and in specific situation.
When is it important for you to lead with vision? When to lead through people and with drive to maximise performance?
It is equally important that you know how to build your team so that vision and strategy, creativity and innovation, assessment and development, analysis of performance and execution of strategy, systems and procedures, product and service standards, measurements and quality control, change catalyst and negotiation are all covered in a balanced way within your team.
Anyone can steer a ship but it takes a leader to chart the course
Leadership excellence involves the ability to:
1. Influence people to bring about change and to know that in any change situation, some people are going to be unhappy with the change.
A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.
2. Motivate people in order to engender quality, effectiveness and productivity in the achievement of the change, not only through the means of an authority structure, rather through the capacity to inspire.
Ten Approaches To Leadership Excellence
Leadership is not a function of titles; it is a function of relationships. Learning from many years experience of leadership: Neslyn.com has distilled leadership excellence in the following 10 approaches:
- Determine where your want your enterprise to be – the vision. The people that you lead want a positive vision of the future, clear communication and a high frequency of interaction focused on the vision.
Ken Blanchard in his book: Leading at a Higher Level illustrate a study of more than 500 leaders, the study demonstrated that strong visionary leadership had the highest performing teams. Leaders with good management skills but without vision had average team performance.
As Joel Barker says: vision without action is only a dream, action without vision passes the time, vision with action can change the world.
Jess Stoner et al paints a vivid picture with the quote: Leadership is about going somewhere. If you and your people don’t know where you are going, your leadership doesn’t matter.
- Determine how to achieve your vision – key strategies for getting there. One of the most important strategies for achieving your leadership vision is learning how to ask intelligent questions. It is important that you adopt a future mind-set and start with the end in mind – start at the accomplishment of the vision, in order to eventually tell the story of how you got there.
The accomplishment of your vision is helped by creating a vision board and having unrealistic, big audacious goals, in so doing you reach for the stars and as Les Brown says: reach for the stars and you may land on the moon.
- Organise your intended accomplishment into broad themes, and focus on what fits the story that you want to tell. Write the story of the vision accomplished, create a video with music and share the story with staff and key stakeholders. This is what is called creating an inspiring vision of the future.
Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.
- Identify the present situation, add value and draw people to you. When you have an element of magnetism in your style as a leader, you are able to draw people to you and people want to be around you by choice. The greatest leaders have magnetism that result in a natural following of people who have assessed the situation and agree to go in the same direction as the leader to accomplish the goals. This is what Jim Collins refers to as being on the same bus
- Recognise the right road and enlisting support to progress to where you are going. The road is about possibilities and engaging others is about creating a vision of possibility that others can connect to. The function of your leadership is to create more leaders. If people are not connected to the vision, they cannot take it further.
- Engage and enrol people. Engagement is a powerful tool because once people buy into your leadership vision, it becomes a shared vision, people then own the vision and they take action on the vision.
You are more likely to retain talent when you engage people. You will also find that engagement reduces the levels of stress people experience in your enterprise. In a blog by the Hay Group engagement was quoted as essential to the development of people – 44% of a data base wanted greater learning and development opportunities and 43% wanted more support from leaders.
Engaging your people is about getting them on board, enabling people to align with your vision and to take ownership. In creating the space for others to be their best, you enlist their support and action to accomplish the goals aligned to the vision.
To be successful with being a leader, it is essential that you focus on building effective relationships with others.
- Be clear about what you wish to go and what you wish to accomplish. The right road requires your clarity so it is incumbent on you as the leader to develop your clarity and forward-looking capacity.
Ask questions such as: What is new? What is best? What is next?
In developing clarity, know that one of the most important distinction a leader can bring to leadership is clarity, clarity of vision, clarity of purpose, clarity of direction, clarity of key performance indicators, clarity of how success will be measured and clarity of outcomes for high and low performance.
You enlist and enrol people when they can see how their dreams and hopes can be fulfilled within the vision.
- Be passionate and creative in being a leader. Connect with people in the present, the only vision that will be successful is a shared vision and this is achieved by listening very closely to people, appreciating their hopes and attending to their needs through observation. Passionate enthusiasm always attracts people to a better future; don’t expect people to follow you if you are not bubbling with enthusiasm.
- Know the stages and events that have led to the present situation. Here it is important to be open and honest about the state of the business you are in – current and future state. This requires you to be clear and candid in your communication with the people you lead. Tell the truth and nothing but the truth, give the people you lead an accurate assessment of what is going well, not going well within the business and what needs to be improved. This level of openness and authenticity creates clarity of understanding and clear direction and in the long run minimises chaos and uncertainty.
The cultures that are most toxic are those where nobody knows the truth – or where nobody is talking about it.
- Review and evaluate the milestones. Simply defined, a milestone is a significant point in development. Evaluation tells you if you are on the path to success and when you have arrived.
So it is essential that you track, measure and report your results. Effective monitoring, review and evaluation will provide you with information on emerging issues, performance improvement and ensure accountability.
It is important that you plan from the start, what will be measured, how it will be measured, for what purpose and who will receive the information.
Start by asking good evaluation questions: Are we doing the right thing? Are we doing it the right way? Are there better ways of achieving results?
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
John Quincy Adams
Demonstrate your leadership excellence by hosting the conversation on what is needed for success and effective results – know what factors will contribute to success.
Show understanding of the key outcomes and how to measure them. Your success is grounded in being future oriented, which means being connected to the bigger picture, seeking constant inspiration and innovation.
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.
Leadership Excellence – Five Practices
- Value your teams. Your leadership requires you to inspire, empower and unite people.
You are creating a culture that is exciting, value driven, effective, fun and worthwhile in your enterprise. So the value you have for your team is essential.
Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel.
If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.
- Show courage. To be an even more outstanding leader, you need to be courageous; you sometimes need to go down the untraveled path.
Being bold in the face of uncertainty will help give your people courage and motivate them to keep striving when the going gets tough. Leading with courage goes hand in hand with leading with character and when your leadership is rooted in character, your leadership matters because it reflects your integrity.
You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.
- Be a trailblazer. Outstanding leaders are trailblazers, navigating the path for others to follow. Outstanding leaders, however, encourage their people to climb higher, inspire people to be their best, dream bigger, and achieve greater. An even more important leadership skill you can develop as a leader is the ability to provide inspiration to your people.
Trailblazers empower others and when you lead with empowerment, you will instil confidence in others and empowered people take ownership of their work.
- Listen to People. Your people are your greatest resource; listen to their feedback and encourage their dreams. You never know where your next great idea will come from, so empower everyone up and down the corporate ladder to contribute and innovate.
To lead people, walk behind them.
- Lead with communication, listen to people and seek to understand the issues, understand what is needed for innovation, what is working well, what is not working, how resources can be better utilised and harnessed.
When you invest time in listening to people’s concerns and ideas you fuel your leadership with communication because you remember that communication is a two way process. In so doing you are also leading with recognition, valuing and treating people the way that makes them feel valued; as well as leading with connecting for when you surround yourself with quality connection to people and you invest time in building genuine relationships, you then extend your leadership beyond your personal strengths.
Successful leaders see the opportunities in every difficulty rather than the difficulty in every opportunity.
Leadership Excellence – Seven Principles
The three decades of Neslyn.com leadership experience, has informed the presentation of seven guiding principles that support leadership excellence as follows:
- People need to be inspired by insightful questions. When you lead with questions you excite and hook the minds of others, you are also showing your willingness to admit that you may not have all the answers.
- People don’t care until they know that you care. Your leadership does not matter until you build on the things that matter. Great leadership is synonymous with great enterprise and built with high performing teams.
- People need to feel valued and respected whatever their gender, race, age or skill acquisition. The more you invest in developing your leadership and the leadership within your enterprise, the better decision you will make, and the more you will get done in less time and with less cost. In addition, you will achieve more and with better results.
- People need to be encouraged, supported and challenged rather than being criticised or blamed. When you encourage people you get greater efficiency and this creates a better outcomes for everyone.
- People need to be appreciated. There needs to be an environment which encourages openness, honesty and an acknowledgement that it is all right to make and admit to mistakes. When you appreciate and recognise people for their creativity, you open up even more possibilities.
People need to be reassured that their feelings are acknowledged and that there is support to deal with feelings. Being a leader who demonstrates leadership excellence calls upon you to establish value for your teams and customers and let your actions reflect that you care.
- Leadership excellence requires you to tap into people’s creativity, desire for doing things differently – change rather than responding to the desire for changes as criticism or complaint.
The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.
Technological innovation, dynamic groups, changing economies, organisations and cultures will only continue to grow and develop with leadership styles that enable people to act powerfully and offer their initiative, creativity, energy and intelligence at every level.
When you delegate, your team members will learn to think like leaders and the commitment and energy of the team can increase dramatically
Marilyn Manning & Patricia Haddock
Seven Empowering Styles of Leadership:
We believe that the following seven empowering styles of leadership are hallmarks in promoting leadership excellence:
- Ability to develop and share an inspiring vision of the future with others.
- Ability to accept change, recognising that change is developmental and challenging.
- Demonstration of responsibility, this means taking responsibility to ensure that everything goes well within your enterprise. It also means listening well to what people have to say and inviting them to make valid contributions for improvement.
- Confidence to inspire others to take leadership and to become a leader of leaders. Develop leaders not followers.
- Be a learner. All leaders are learners. When you demonstrate your capacity to learn and show a willingness to create an environment where there is praise, encouragement and support you will often find that:
People perform best in an atmosphere of warmth, challenge and high expectations
- Humility to remain an apprentice and not a master. This will contribute to a learning enterprise where the leader and others can learn with honesty.
There is recognition of self-worth and demonstration of self-confidence. One learns more easily from experience to handle adversities effectively when there is full recognition of self-worth
- Competence in building close and mutually supportive relationships based on integrity and trust. In mutually supportive relationships people develop knowledge of how to ask empowering questions and how to listen with complete respect.
When there is existence of trust the following are palpable:
- There is an evolving culture where people give up complaining and blaming and instead take initiatives to bring about innovation and change.
- There is development of concrete plans and strategies with regular review processes
- There is confidence to recognise and handle attacks elegantly.
In conclusion, Neslyn.com believe that your influence affects eternity, you can never tell where your influence stops.
We believe that you need to have clarity on where you are going and have the courage to stay on your path.
I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: Try to please everybody.
As a leader if you are committed to developing empowering leadership characteristics as outlined in this special report on leadership excellence you will need to model and plan strategies to make such characteristics a reality.
It is essential that you develop your own vision for your leadership as well as deciding the role that you as the leader will take.
Your leadership vision is best dovetailed and supported by the goals and mission of your enterprise.
Your responsibility as the leader is to communicate the vision by stating it simply, understandably and inspirationally.
A leader with vision is one who:
- Inspires and motivates
- Projects into the future and communicates a global outlook
- Obtains significant, often extraordinary, results from people
- Is highly committed to excellence, honesty and productivity
- Is an effective listener
We encourage you to develop ten essential leadership characteristics as follows:
- Decide on the few crucial interventions, that is, those interventions which if clearly identified and acknowledged would steer your enterprise on the right path
- Develop close, mutually supportive partnerships based on integrity and trust. This helps to build capacity, build wealth and influence others as well as to avoid isolation
- Become a leader of change. Look for the benefits of the change. Remember what you focus on will expand.
- Build networks. An essential way of bringing about change within an enterprise is to extend your network of influence and credibility through building more effective relationships with people
- Work with people who demonstrate energy for getting things right rather than concentrating on dinosaurs
- Develop practical programmes that work on key issues and supporting the energy for change
- Work at the highest level and producing quality. Starting with individuals, and then working with teams
- Develop and empower people. Release individual initiative
- Recognise success and give due credit. As a leader it is sometimes tempted to claim the credit for you. If so, you are thinking of your own advancement. A leader who seize every opportunity to motivate people by recognising their worth, service and contributions is a far more effective leader.
- Develop support for self as leader. Support will help you to think, decide and act differently.
No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.
Your attitude as a leader will set the pace and tone for the people that are led. People tend to mirror each other and the group or organisation will mirror its leader.
In your leadership you may be required to take different roles such as leader, strategist, mentor, architect, builder, coordinator and champion. Your attitude will affect effectiveness and productivity within your enterprise.
Your attitude speaks so loudly, others cannot hear what you say.
Elwood N Chapman
When you attitude is positive and dynamic, people will reflect such traits by becoming more positive and dynamic. However, if in your leadership, you adopt behaviours that demonstrate complaints, victim blaming, and a stance of things are awful, then people who reflect those attributes will surround you.
Your attitude affects productivity through the display of trust, good relationships with people and a positive attitude in such circumstances people respond by being more productive.
Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.
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