What it Means to Be an Effective Leader

June 29, 2010 by  Filed under: Management 

Because people will look to us as the authority we need to be honorable, have a passion for what we do, display a well-rounded sense of humor, and stay humble and curious to learn. In addition, we need to become master communicators and adept at dealing with four paradoxes of leadership.

When Franklin Roosevelt was running for president in 1932, a reporter asked him what he thought the job entailed. “The Presidency is not merely an administrative office,” he replied. “It is preeminently a place of moral leadership. All our great presidents were leaders of thought in times when certain historic ideas in the life of the nation had to be clarified.”

So we can see that Roosevelt was equating moral leadership when clarifying the ideas of the nation. Moral leadership is displaying certain personal qualities that inspire trust and generate spark and Roosevelt certainly did that for America during his time of leadership.

It was Warren Bennis who said, “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born. In fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” So do not worry; all the qualities I talk about are learned qualities. They may not be easy, but they are within everyone’s reach.

So let us begin. First of all, in order to build trust and spark, and to lead at light speed, you need to develop certain personal qualities. I call these the four H’s of leadership: heart, honor, humility and humor. When blended together, these are the personal qualities that distinguish great leaders and the best part is that all of these qualities can be learned.

You will also need to learn how to effectively use the four powers of communication to express yourself: effective listening, controlling our intentions, controlling our attentions, and lastly communicating with an appreciation of different “styles.”

Secondly, effective leaders need to be comfortable with paradox. Leaders are chosen based on the congruence between the behaviors they manifest and the values that pertain in their culture. But what does this mean in a global organization because ideas and notions about leadership can vary dramatically depending on where you are located – from country to country, office to office – sometimes even within the same building. An effective leader, however, will know that while the organization operates in many cultures and worldviews, the organization must have its own set of core values that does not change and they then make a priority of ensuring that those core values are understood by every employee and customer.

In conclusion, what does all that mean to us personally as leaders? Well, it means “Integrity.” The word literally means “to be whole, unimpaired.” It conveys the notion of being trustworthy and as a leader people must be able to communicate and trust you. Leaders will have the ability to think and act in ways that may be counter to the prevailing winds, but in ways that flow out of, in Roosevelt’s words, “A place of moral leadership.”

Effective leadership involves getting everyone on the same page. Teach everyone what it means to be a leader by purchasing multiple copies of Leading at Light Speed. This must-read leadership book will navigate your organization through 10 quantum leaps to build trust, spark innovation, and create a high-performing organization.

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