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The Qualities of Leadership

"When you FOCUS you get clarity"

The Qualities of Leadership
What are the qualities of a good leader? Colin Thompson of Cavendish discusses the important traits of strong leadership and management.

The Qualities of Leadership
While the skills gap in the UK workforce is routinely cited in the media, the importance of employing highly skilled, well-trained managers and leaders cannot be underestimated. This applies to all countries worldwide!

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Annual Survey Report, effective leadership skills can encourage enthusiasm and motivation across an entire business, helping to increase productivity levels and stimulate the growth of small and medium-sized and large businesses. Almost all businesses agree there is a direct link between leadership development and business performance and yet two-thirds believe there is a shortage of highly effective leaders in many global organisations.

Effective managers engage and motivate staff, employing reward methods that are tailored to the company and employees, resulting in increased productivity and retained staff. We would all acknowledge that the qualities which make a good leader are based on common sense.

Giving recognition
Good leaders recognise great work and are specific as to exactly what an employee did to merit recognition. A message of thanks from management to employees has little impact, but specifically singling out an individual or team can have far more force. The bonus of effective managerial skills in this area is that it encourages other employees to follow suit. People love being praised and will work harder if they feel their good work will be acknowledged.

However, a good leader will also react accordingly if poor work is produced, and will find out why and how the employee can be helped. Responsible leaders do not draw attention to poor work to anyone other than the employee involved, and will encourage good communication.

Active recruitment
Good leaders encourage the `right` people to join the company, not only individuals who are highly skilled but who are also `motivated` with the right `attitude` towards work and the company in question. In many cases, a good leader will recognise that a person has the right attributes for the job, even if he or she is lacking the level of skills needed, understanding that a willingness to learn is a prized attribute.

Effective leadership shows staff where the company is going and how they can contribute towards its success. People feel a stronger affinity towards a business if they are involved in making it a success, and can directly see the impacts of their work.

Successful leaders acknowledge the need to be approachable and to know what is going on throughout the organisation, not just in the boardroom. These leaders understand that staff motivation and feedback are a good barometer showing how well the company is running rather than relying solely on revenue forecasts and projections.

Although these qualities may sound straightforward enough, many people are not natural leaders. This is why `training` programmes are so important to the success of businesses, recognising the importance of well-rounded individuals in positions of leadership. All Leaders need a continuous programme of learning.

The Way I See It... All Leaders Manage, but not all Managers Lead!
Whilst all leaders have the ability to manage, only a small proportion of managers have the necessary skills to become strong leaders. This is because they do not possess the three core skills necessary to bridge the gap between maintaining the status quo and driving change. Here I identify the differences between leadership and management and explains how individuals must develop their approach to take the next step to be successful.

'Leadership' is a misleading term as it can manifest itself at every level of an organisation. Whether employed as a managing director or a cleaner, individuals displaying strong leadership characteristics will exemplify good practice throughout their careers and exert far greater influence over others.

Maintenance or evolution

The role of a manager is to maintain the status quo, to ensure that things happen according to plan and to maintain consistency throughout operations. By contrast, a leader is judged on their ability to drive and affect change. Inevitably, a leader will have been a manager at some stage in their development, but the issue for many companies is that the individuals leading their organisation are still managers in all but name.

To become a `strong` leader there are three areas in which individuals must excel. The imbalance or lack of ability in one or two of these areas prevents individuals from making the jump from management to leadership. Leadership skills can be taught, but much development activity does not address the need to balance these strengths equally.

1. Knowing yourself

The first characteristic that leaders must possess is an innate sense of self-awareness. Without being aware of themselves and the way in which they interact with others, individuals will see their progress hampered. Individuals must first appreciate their position and recognise their own unique contribution in order that they might appreciate the value that others can add. There is no one right way and a good leader will let people follow their own path rather than dictating things to them, providing they achieve desired results and adhere to core values/principles.

This balance between adaptability and consistency is key in gaining the respect of employees. People will respond much more positively to individuals that engender respect and as such it is essential that leaders know what they stand for and are prepared to do what is needed to make it happen. Three hundred and sixty degree feedback can play an important role in helping individuals to heighten their sense of awareness, realise their strengths and weaknesses and afford them the opportunity to build and develop a team around them to move the business forward.

2. Leading and influencing others

Influencing skills are paramount for leaders and create an atmosphere in which people feel they are treated as peers rather than subordinates. The individual's ability to influence the behaviour of others is closely linked to their ability to display the behaviour that they demand from others. Someone that doesn't like challenge is unlikely to create an environment in which people are free to question one another.

This is particularly important because it can have a direct impact on morale. If a manager works on the basis that if they do not comment on people's work then everything is fine, the implication is that only negative feedback will be given and people are unlikely to be highly motivated or to understand how to achieve peak performance.

Leaders must learn to deal with potentially difficult conversations effectively to demonstrate that they are able to take leadership on issues in order to resolve them. Executive coaching is an effective means of refining influencing skills and strategies.

3. Maintaining a results driven focus

The most important consideration for any business is the results that it is able to achieve and in order that this potential can be realised, people must be prepared to meet challenges and opportunities head-on. An environment that embraces challenge necessitates a greater work rate amongst staff and a 5% discretionary effort from 20 people is the equivalent to employing another person.

An employee that feels valued is an employee that will work harder. In order that staff feel valued, they must be aware that their strengths are recognised, valued and developed and weaknesses are being monitored and addressed rather than being swept under the carpet.

Leaders are `trained` to lead and are not born. Skill and experience of leaders show in the `bottom-line` results of their `team` efforts!

The `right` People with passion to succeed are the most valuable assets of any organisation. If you wish to know more, invest in a copy of the inspirational book, `Create Your Own Success Story` - ISBN: 978-1-84549-260-1

Now go forward and enjoy 2014 with your customers, employees and suppliers.

Plus, How are you going to `Boost Your Business` in the future?

How will you achieve the following in your business, Improve Profitability – Increase Productivity – Management/Control Costs – Plan Effectively – Organise Efficiently, are all needed to be successful in business. Also, what `Management Techniques to Increase the `Bottom-Line` will you use?

There are proven methods available that will help all Directors/Managers to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the business environment.

`Boost Your Business` is available for immediate purchase by visiting the secure Cavendish eStore online at http://www.cavendish-mr.org.uk - customers can download this report in PDF Acrobat format immediately after purchase.

By Colin Thompson

Colin Thompson
DDL: + 44 (0) 121 244 0306

Mobile: 07831 588310

Main T: + 44 (0) 121 244 1802

email: colin@cavendish-mr.org.uk

Skype: colin.thompson384



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