There is no such thing as a strong organisation without effective leadership, yet there is an ongoing struggle for a solution to the problem of creating excellent leadership. Organisations have stumbled from one initiative to another, from one competency model to another, from one process to another; all desperately trying to find a way to cultivate their most important asset: top talent.

Unfortunately, despite valiant efforts, there is little, if any, demonstrable evidence of success. Now, ironically, instead of digging deeper, there seems to be a growing lust for ‘answers. A  typical ‘drive through’ solution: “Define the core competencies for your leaders, give them Multi-rater feedback reports, produce on-line development suggestions, and make e-learning tools available. Then  leaders will emerge.” That sounds about as easy as picking up some burgers and fries. If it were only so simple!

As the saying goes, “Great leaders are made, not born”. We don’t entirely agree with the saying, as the potential to lead is something innate. It’s what we do with that potential that determines our effectiveness as a leader. Everyone has the scope to learn, and our effectiveness as a leader is determined by how much we can grasp onto that opportunity. Leaders exhibit a range of virtues such as confidence, commitment, and courage that provides their team with a direction and motivation to succeed. Let us go through the traits that go into making the most effective leaders in modern times.

  1. Assessing the self – As great leaders do, let us start with the self. Assessing one’s shortcomings and strengths is something that great leaders never miss out on. Before interacting and assessing the team and learning about their nuances, leaders assess their own selves. They identify the areas of vulnerability and weaknesses that they need to work upon. Furthermore, they assessed their strong points and figured out the best ways to use them for achieving the common goal.
  2. Sense of Integrity – A leader without integrity is no leader at all. A good leader has a set of values and ethics that shape up their integrity. They utilize these values while making a decision and behaving with others. Their sense of right and wrong is clear and unshakable. Whatever they embark upon, they show unhinged conviction. Their honesty, loyalty, and confidence create a sense of purpose and integrity that defines them throughout.
  3. Sharp communication skills – Clear, concise, and tactful communication is crucial for ensuring able leadership. Communicating effectively involves attentive listening and appropriate responding. Leaders must be able to share all necessary information and ask the right questions to garner new ideas and avoid misunderstandings. Communication from leaders must be aimed at motivating the team and infusing fresh energy into the workflow.
  4. Critical decision making – An effective leader knows how to make critical decisions in a limited time. Every leader comes across multiple instances where they have to take critical decisions for the betterment of the team. In such instances, they have to consider all kinds of consequences their decision can give rise to. Then they have to make the most optimum one. Hence, leaders must possess confident decision-making skills and be absolutely resolute in it.
  5. Goal setting and decision making – Leaders must understand the direction their team is heading towards more so because the team is dependent upon the leaders to show them where they’re heading. It is their vision that guides the entire team towards their common goal. Without the correct goal setting and decision making the team will be lost at sea and aimless.
  6. Team building – It’s also a known fact that a leader is as good as his team. Hence putting together a functional team and building on its strengths is mandatory for a great leader. A dysfunctional team can never succeed even if the leader is supremely talented. Team building is one aspect that determines if a leader is on the right path to success or not.

Concluding, a great leader must acknowledge the fact the team’s purpose is above everything else. The leader’s balanced personality and tactful actions would help the team get over the line.

Leadership core competencies are typically derived by looking for common ground in a sample of excellent leaders. “Ah hah,” we think. ”If we can combine the nine or ten common ingredients from  our favorite dinners, we can make the perfect meal.” But would anyone really want to dine on the resulting dish?

We also seem to think that we can generate top-quality leadership by having our leaders emulate the leaders of other organisations.  However, as Charles O’Reilly, Prof HRM, Stanford University, said about benchmarking organisations, “If your organisation benchmarks the best companies, then congratulations. You’ll be a good company  – but you won’t be a great company.” The same is true of leadership.

Emulation of others’ best practices to achieve goals may simply produce stunning mediocrity.


Photo credit – Mitchel Luo on Unsplash



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