Effective Leadership

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership. -Nelson Mandela

What makes a leader effective? Derek Sivers would argue that “the first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader.” Regardless of how an individual attracts his/her followers, the point is, when they are in fact successful, there are characteristic trends within personality that most leaders share. “Every leader has a particular style of leadership that is innate. However, the behaviors, attitudes or methods of delivery that are effective for one staff member may in fact be counterproductive for another” (CNN).
Here are what I deem the most important leadership traits mentioned by the CNN article that comprises a good leader:
1. Honesty: builds trust
2. Focus: mission statement and direct understanding of expectations as well as a clear path to get there.
3. Passion: find it.
4. Respect: treat each other with dignity and equality. There is no room for favoritism.
5. Excellent persuasion abilities: find your “why”. (See previous post by me)
6. Be Empowering: make your followers feel valued.
Whether it was Ghandi, Steve Jobs, J.F.K, Dr. Greene, or the manager at your favorite local coffee shop, in order to be an effective leader, these characteristics are essential. I would argue that charm, charisma, and intellect also play obvious roles. However, as theories of organizational behavior would reinforce, inspirational leadership styles, or walking the walk is a transformative method of management.
“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be..” The same is true in management; wherever your treasure or priorities lie, there too the desires of your business (or heart) will lie. If money motivates you, than that is where your heart is. If it’s within the people you guide, than that is where your heart is. Whatever it may be, your means to the end may vary, but the most common formulas have been prove to lie within the characteristics above. Where are you lacking?

“I’m not a Businessman, I’m a Business, Man”

YOU'RE HIRED!

The New York Times recently featured an article that suggested that instead of looking for experience when hiring for new positions, companies should consider hiring individuals with one or two years of work experience, or better yet, those fresh out of college (*cough or graduate school*). Most of us either have personally been victims of exclusion based on “inexperience” or have witnessed our elders’ strong resistance to new innovations based on their often blatantly expired mentality (social media, anyone?). It is rare that an experienced professional is an early adopter. Why do you think this is?

“More often than not, I find that those who come with experience and credentials have set ways; they don’t bring as much energy or out-of-the-box thinking as the untrained junior staff.” Can I get a hallelujah? But wait, I hesitate to be too overoptimistic. Undoubtedly there are specialized jobs in which experience is vital. In areas such as science and law, experience is invaluable. However, in jobs were creativity takes precedent, we find our place. Although, if we follow this logic, we will inevitably come to a screeching halt…what happens when the kids we once babysat come knocking on our office doors with an eviction notice and a smile? How can we keep up with not the Jones’, but the Sallys’ and Bobbys’ of the next generation?

Perhaps we can think of ourselves as a business within a business. In the words of Kanye, “I’m not a business man, I am a business, man.”  That is, we have to keep taking on the new and latest ideas in order to reinvent ourselves. Otherwise, we will be replaced. “In building a global team, I’ve found that people who have fire in their belly, who come to learn, and who are open to adaptation are the ones who flourish.” It is our job within a job to continuously add fuel to the fire, to strive for our personal best, and to become irreplaceable within our organizations. In psychological terms, we must be careful to not self-stereotype, the process that individuals define themselves in terms of their group membership. Instead, we have to understand ourselves as evolving in nature and capable of innovation and creativity at all times. We have learned over and again in Organizational Psychology the importance of the hiring process and the thought that must be evaluated in both finding the right fit and assessment of the psychological contract between employee and employer. There is a shared sense of responsibility, but on our end, this begs the question, how can we position ourselves in a way in which to ensure our own personal innovation?

“I am not young enough to know everything” -Oscar Wilde