Many of the defining characteristics needed for effective leadership -- like having a vision, integrity, commitment and resilience – are innate.
Happily, another quality, as essential for success as the others, can be learned. It is the ability to mobilise a fire-in-the-belly effort among employees to help the leader realise ambitious goals. This quality can be acquired by observing the behaviours of leaders who deploy these skills, by being coached or incrementally with "stretch” efforts by the leader to generate the needed employee commitment.
The power of the leader’s position alone cannot command enthusiasm and dedication from today's workforce. Instead, employees must be convinced that the leader’s objectives are achievable, understand that meeting the goals will provide a personal payoff and be inspired to make their own full force contribution. To generate the needed support from everyone in the organisation, the leader has to put their leadership on parade:
He must be visible, crystal clear about his message and take every opportunity to demonstrate, live and in person, his passion for his goals. Unless he shows how deeply he cares, few others will care and his plan may be seen as another flavour of the month.
Some leaders believe it is sufficient to communicate their goals to the workforce through the organisation's internal media: employee publications, intranet, video conferencing, etc. -- the more sophisticated the technology the better. Many have become enamoured with blogging because it makes possible instant communications with large numbers of employees, assuming they make the effort to log on.
All this is useful because it allows for repetition of the leader's message, which is essential for making an impact. But using media is not a substitute for interacting with employees face to face. Media cannot convey the intensity of feeling the leader has for his plan nearly as well as human contact does. The very fact that the leader is there, that he has left the comfort of the office to communicate with employees, gives the message importance.Continue reading