With so many blogs, approaches and tips on leadership, how to pick the right one for you? As in any other context, there is no simple formula for good leadership. Circumstances change and people need to adapt accordingly. That is why there are so many approaches to leadership. The variety of perspectives reveal different experiences and give answers to the different challenges leaders need to deal with. This is a good thing!
Despite this diversity, there are some important rules of leadership that need to be considered. Following our analysis of the top ten leadership blogs, we discovered that most of the approaches and tips fitted into three basic principles of leadership.
Leaders cannot be leaders alone. In order to do it, leaders and followers must be or feel connected with each other. As an intermediary between people, one of the leader’s priorities is to try to generate strong and healthy bonds with and within an organization. When this happens, leadership helps to reinforce a group, making it more solid, more cohesive. Within this context, experts in leadership give some interesting advice. Keep in contact and communicate with your team through one-to-one conversations, regular staff meetings, going around the office (s) saying hello to people, sending emails on special occasions, etc. Communication (talking and listening) is a great way of developing a sense of belonging and mutual trust. Bottom line, it’s much easier to lead someone who sees the leader, although with a different mission, as an ally, a member of the team.
A leader must lead the way. Leadership should work as a gravitational force that not only concentrates dispersed human energy but also orients that energy in the right direction. Providing direction has an internal and an external dimension. At the internal level, when giving guidance, establishing priorities or leading by example, a leader should contribute to bringing out the best of people, so teams become more efficient, more effective and harmonious. At the external level, a leader should select the missions that motivate a team and contribute to the success of an organization.
In sum, direction means focusing the efforts on the right battles. How? For instance, a leader must communicate and be clear about collective and individual goals. In this way, people understand what is expected of them and what are the desired results. Frequent communication is imperative to assure everyone is aligned with the global mission. It’s also a way to reinforce the sense of belonging, i.e. each team member knows he is contributing to something bigger. Leading the way also means motivating a team and setting the example. While working hard to achieve a goal, team members may step on some stumbling blocks. In this situation, a leader must show a positive attitude towards problems by never giving up, by reminding everyone all the good things that were already accomplished and the importance of the ultimate outcome, why this goal is worth the effort.
Leadership is not about the leader
Whether in a team, a department, a company or a country, leadership is always about a collective project. Leadership is a noble but difficult mission. With all the stress and responsibility that comes with coordination and decision-making, some leaders may start thinking that it’s all about them. They may even think they deserve more recognition, rewards, power and to be the priority of the organization because nothing would work without them. One way to avoid this tendency is to stay connected with the rest of the team, and especially with close people who care more about the bigger purpose than hierarchy or prestige. As a leader, you need advisors who aren’t afraid to confront you, to be honest with you and to remind you what is your role and your mission.
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