Leadership is a really interesting topic because, when you look at the most successful leaders in whatever field, there are a number of aspects that are unique to the situational context and traits of the individual that combine to create a successful leader.
In terms of leadership qualities, there are too many to mention here in a short article. But first, in no order of priority, there is "leading by example". On every level the leader sets the standard for everyone in a team, whatever the undertaking. The example is most often set by the leader's actions. This can come in the form of major effort, material decision making, managing crises, all the way down to the really important "little things" like self-management and conduct in front of the team.
Delegation and the ability to do it effectively come next in our list. Having read a number of books about the All Blacks what quickly becomes clear is that there is a formal structure upon which the team is built and operates. While there is a captain and clear leader on the field, Kieran Read is supported in a number of ways and by a number of people - these people have roles and jobs to do and responsibility is delegated to them to ensure the entire team is successful. The All Blacks do this so effectively because they know their players so well and understand their strengths and weaknesses.
Another important quality for leaders, particularly when you see the pressure and expectation which the leader carries is "coolness under pressure". And probably this is the quality which is unfortunately absent from the current "leader of the Free World" (let's just call him "Captain Twitter"). It is curious that in the business world the most important leadership roles go to the most qualified, but this isn't the rule in politics.
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Following on from this, the ability to communicate effectively is crucial. True communication is not about one-way direction, it is also about knowing that the message has gotten through - including the oversight of performance of a task once the direction is given. I take particular note, when watching leaders in action, of how they address their team. One thing which is obvious when it comes to successful leaders, is the ability to remove emotion and, yet, keep their team engaged. And as I have stated in some previous articles, non-verbal communication is also a big part of the picture. It is not possible to say one thing and mean another in leadership, because non-verbal cues will give away the true meaning. In many cases a major non-verbal cue comes from the leader's level of commitment to work and the team - which is inspiring to others.
There are many other leadership qualities and the above are only a few. You could add to the list qualities like ethics, creativity, intuition and inspiration which are easily attributed and identified in successful leaders.
Not everyone has the necessary qualities to lead, but a number of these qualities can be developed and it is important that you find the leaders in your business and give them the opportunity to shine.
■ Balance Consulting is a Whanganui consultancy specialising in business strategy, process excellence and leadership mentoring - contact Russell Bell on 021 2442421 or John Taylor on 027 4995872.