If you want to become a really great leader then it is important that you invest time and effort into developing your skill as a leader. Although there is far more to leading others than possessing the proper technical skills needed to effectively lead others. Understanding and practicing these skills will certainly equip you to be a better leader. There is however one requirement for leadership, which is difficult to learn, but is crucial to becoming a great leader. This quality is character.
Your character or the example you set for those who follow you, is communicated to them through your actions. The primary example you set for others or the level of good character you project to everyone around you, is the most important area you need to address or improve, if you want to be authentic and believable as a leader.
Action Idea: Examine your actions or the example you have set over the past month. Have the actions you have taken and the example you have set been aligned with the type of character you want your team to project to you?
- Are you acting in alignment with the values of your teams?
- Have you exhibited the level of integrity expected from your team?
- Are you working as hard as or harder than you expect your team to work?
- Are you displaying the honesty, you expect from your team?
- Are you living up to your team’s expectations?
- Is there anything you need to change to ensure that you are more authentic?
Once you are certain that your actions and the example you are setting for your team as their leader, are aligned with the needs and expectations of your team. It is time to ensure that you have a clearly defined mission, vision and strategy, which is clearly communicated to every team member.
- Your mission or purpose must clearly define why you and your team do what you do every day. When your team understands the overall purpose and their role in delivering on the mission, they will be inspired and driven to make the team succeed.
- The team vision must also be clear and understood by all stakeholders, as this defines exactly what the team is trying to achieve with the actions they take each day. The more clear the vision and the better it is understood by all team members the better the final result the team will realise in the end.
- All great leaders have a strategic plan, which they clearly and consistently communicate to their followers. This allows everyone to get a crystal clear picture of their individual roles necessary to delivery on the overall vision. This strategic plan is effectively the how, which when the team aligns this with their mission, will deliver on their vision.
As you climb higher in any organisation, your role as a leader is to be more of a dreamer or visionary and less of a practical hands-on person. The higher you climb as a leader the more your work is about charting a course for your followers to follow into the future. The reality that every leader faces though is that no matter how great their vision may be, they always remain responsible for influencing their followers to take action. No vision is of any value, unless acted upon strategically by all team members.
The measure of any great leader is found in how well they are able to clarify their vision and then to communicate their passion and the essence of their vision to their teams. This can be a challenging task as the people you lead, may not be privy to all the information you as the leader have access to and they may not be able to envision the future like you can. You as the leader of any team are the steward of the vision and as such you must work to bridge the vision gap, between what you envision as the leader and what your team sees.
Great leaders must communicate their mission, vision and strategy to their teams consistently, in a creative and clear fashion. This will ensure that every team member understands their role in delivering on the mission and vision. Although communication is important and must be done daily, it alone will not get your team completely aligned behind your mission and vision. The only way to get this to happen is for you as the leader to live your mission and vision. As you model your vision, every day, your team gets to see your drive and passion and they can see how the picture of what you envision actually comes alive.
Great leaders must always set the example with the right behaviour and daily activity. People may doubt what you say, but they seldom doubt what you do. As you consistently set a good example for your teams and you keep modelling the right behaviour every day, which is aligned with achieving your vision. So too will your followers do the same. People do what you do and are guided by what you say. It is for this reason that you must always strive to be the example of what you want from your team.
The example or living picture, any great leader displays to his or her team, is what produces the energy, passion and inspiration, which their teams feed off. The people, who follow you, are always watching what you do. If you set a bad example with your daily actions, your teams will soon exhibit the same bad behaviour. If you as a leader strive to be the example you want and expect from your followers, they will eventually emulate you and reflect just that back to you, in the actions they take daily.
Remember that if you want to change any behaviour in your teams, it is impossible to achieve any change, unless the change starts with you the leader first. Your role as a leader is to act as a change agent. To be effective in this endeavour, you must ensure that you model any change in yourself, before you expect to see any change in your followers. The standards of excellence you set for yourself must be far higher than any standard you set for any members of your team. To retain your credibility as a leader, you must always strive to work first, hardest and longest on changing yourself, before you attempt to change anything in your team.
The most valuable gift any great leader can give to themselves and to their teams is to always strive to be a good example. When you as a leader are able to align your beliefs, vision and values with your daily actions, you become a perfect model for your team, someone who leads from the front. As you consistently strive to set a perfect example as a leader, you create the perfect foundation for the same behaviour to be practiced by everyone in your teams.