Leadership – The Do’s and Don’ts
The art of great leadership – the kind that inspires and motivates, builds strong organizations, earns respect and tremendous accolades, doesn’t “just happen.” It’s the result of a dedicated commitment to the people, mission, and goals of the group one is leading.
Consider the following building bricks of leadership excellence.
Communication Skills: The ability to listen not only to what is being said, but also to what is being communicated through body language and silence, and then interpret it accurately is critical to leadership. Likewise, the ability to deliver your message – verbally and in written form – with grace, transparency, and respect in a way that builds the recipient’s confidence – even when it’s constructive criticism. This sounds like a tall order – it is! It’s also the foundation to all other aspects of leadership, which include:
Goal Setting and Planning: The foresight to set appropriate goals, which support a long-term vision, and then create a plan to reach them.
Analytical and Decision-Making skills: The ability to review a situation, assess the cause, create a list of options, analyze potential positives and negatives of each choice, and then make sound decisions, resulting in growth is essential. Rebounding well when a decision doesn’t end favorably is another angle of decision making.
Organizational Skills: From people to projects to events, the ability to look at a whole and then organize it into categories, schedules, assignments, etc. is a critical leadership skill.
Delegation: A true leader never “does it all.” He/she learns how to interpret what responsibilities belong to him/her and what can be distributed to others. They not only delegate responsibility, but they instill confidence in the delegatee by providing the essential tools and authority to do the job well and then step away – no micromanaging.
Negotiation and Conflict Resolution: As a manager, you have to negotiate with staff, other leaders, business partners, and competitors. Being able to do so with integrity, fairness, respect, and professionalism is essential. Sometimes negotiation involves conducting conflict resolution between two other parties. Rich leadership allows both parties to walk away satisfied.
On the other hand, leadership excellence also involves an understanding of what not to do.
Don’t abuse power. When a leader insists on being in control of every plan, decision, and ultimately every glory, he/she wastes the talent of his/her team, and ultimately, loses the potential to excel.
Don’t play the blame game. When leaders deny personal weaknesses and blame their errors on others, the team will quickly lose faith in their leader. It’s the fast track to loss of talent who look for greener pastures.
Don’t care more about personal popularity than real leadership. An unwillingness to face conflict, give necessary constructive criticism, and do the hard jobs may lead to being everybody’s pal, but also results in mediocracy and complacency instead of quality and high standards.
Don’t be afraid of risks. Certainly wisdom and prudence play a significant role in leadership, but an unwillingness to take a risk means losing the opportunity to soar.
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