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Leadership is all about influencing and inspiring people to achieve their Ideal-Self and facilitating the resources to enable a purpose-driven growth. Thus leadership is a phenomenon driven through a strong sense of purpose. If we look at all great Leaders who walked the planet this sense of purpose is a common occurrence.
A sense of purpose is activated because of an intense emotional experience and then executed with absolute grit. It awakens most of the time if not always because of a profound life-transforming incidence.
Authenticity is the essence of every true Leader’s persona. A congruence of passion, values, universal principles and competence creates the core of authenticity in a person. Authenticity is always the definer of the success of a leader because it triggers trust which is the essential factor in all human transactions.
Given this strong sense of purpose and passion, what makes a person a great leader? There are some definite traits that Leaders tend to show which are essential to imbibe in our journey of leadership. Many Universities worldwide have researched the aspects of Leadership Competencies. Harvard has done some exceptional research on the same and benchmarked leaders worldwide.
- Envisioning: Leaders have a clear idea of their Ideal-Self and the legacy they want to leave behind. They are individuals with a very high level of self-awareness generated through assessment tools and contemplative reflection.
- Personal mastery: It is all about being better than the best, one has to be an expert. This can only be accomplished through a continual process of learning. Unfortunately, most professionals just do not focus on upgrading themselves. This leads to their ineffectiveness and finally obsolescence. Knowledge of yesteryears will not be relevant in today’s and tomorrow’s time-space.
- Integrity & honesty: Knowledge with a corrupt attitude is the most dangerous combination. This will destroy the entire eco-system. We live in a world of cause and effect, and thus Principles become the definer of eternal success for a Leader. Conscientiousness is the critical definer of the correctness of actions.
- Domain expertise: A leader must have the functional skill-sets required to succeed in the domain they operate in. A diversity of experience is also the key. Restricted expertise is not the Leader’s cup of tea.
- Initiative & proactiveness: Knowlege provides us with the eyes for spotting opportunities. However, to capitalize on opportunities, we need the confidence and intent. Confidence comes from our memories of past successes. Going after ideas with a sense of urgency becomes another factor for leadership competence.
- Result Orientation: Cashing on opportunities with the end goal clearly defined in measurable terms is another area of competence. Cognition and systems thinking creates results. These abilities are acquired through consistent practice and learning. It is all about converting the opportunity into reality. The more the diversity of experience better the cognitive abilities.
- Influencing & inspiring: No goal can be achieved without an inspired team. Leaders have an innate ability to help people recognize their true potential and their enduring strengths. These teams create superior outcomes. Teams driven by a sense of purpose are always in a perpetual mode of inspiration.
- Developing People: Leaders are natural Coaches and Mentors. They build competent teams because shared Leadership is the essence they believe in. Collective capabilities of the team make a Leader realize dreams.
- Collaboration: Teams build Nations and organizations. It is all about people coming together with their individual choices to accomplish individual desires through a common goal. Leaders help people discover and realize their dreams through a collaborative effort. Continuous problem solving builds great teams.
- Building Energized Teams: High-performance teams have the energy and focus. Energy comes from the hope & playfulness. Leaders create a culture that makes work-place a nourishing dimension of life. Task-driven teams are low on energy. Teams that dream have high energy.
- Challenging stretched goals: Competent leaders and teams tend to go for challenging outcomes. Perpetual risks are an integral part of the leadership journey.
However, focus on low hanging fruits and failing early and failing cheap is the essence of Leadership. Any unaccomplished stretched goal will dent the charisma of a Leader.
- Problem Solving: Life is a problem, and intelligence lies in solving problems continuously. Analytical and creative abilities enable leaders to confront issues and problems with confidence and resolve them. Knowledge is the fundamental essence here. Leadership also demonstrates strong survival instincts because the unforeseen crisis is always a possibility.
- Change Coach: Change is the essence of life. Leaders recognize the aversion that people tend to have towards change. They provide authentic inputs for people to manage and enjoy the change process effectively.
- Prolific communication: A heart-warming and straightforward conversation is the key to leadership. Leadership conversations are an essential element in the process of helping people win. Core conversations, feedback & feedforward, appreciative inquiry, coaching, Mentoring & reverse mentoring are the definers of conversations.
- Social Intelligence: Relationships are key to every Leader’s existence. The type of people in the social network defines and celebrates leadership. Leaders meticulously focus their energies on building relationships through personal bonds. There is no self-made Leader ever.
- Broker Networks: Though internal cohesivity of teams is essential; each member of the team must be motivated to build outside influential networks for collective success. Relying only on a Leaders network alone is a limiting factor.
- Innovation: Empathy towards eco-systems triggers ideas. Ideas are implemented and monetized by leaders effectively. This is the process of Innovation. Doing better with lesser is the key here.
- Strategic perspective: Every entity must scale-up. Every orbit of consciousness must shift to the next level. It is all about ideas that touch multiple beings in the eco-system. A perspective to scale the vision and make it a reality is a classic requirement of leadership.
- Emotional Intelligence: Cognitive abilities, systems thinking and conscientiousness are essential elements of managerial effectiveness. When we also have self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, empathy, and effective relationships, we emerge as leaders.
Human development happens through the “nature and nurture” combination. We will have some of the above traits as our natural essence also termed as Nature. The consistent practice of other traits is our Nurture bit. Leaders continuously hone up their abilities through the Nurturing option.
Anybody can become a Leader, it is just that we need a sense of purpose and the competencies that we can always nurture. After all life is a self-fulfilling prophecy.